Wet Brined, Perfectly Browned & Crispy with Homemade Gravy
1 frozen turkey, any size (turkey in video was about 15 lbs)
For Brine Mixture:
16 cups (1 gallon) vegetable stock
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp candied ginger (minced)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp whole allspice berries
3 bay leaves
16 cups (1 gallon) ice-water (very cold)
For Aromatic Stuffing:
1 red apple (we like using Fuij apples), sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
5 sprigs rosemary (stems removed)
10 fresh sage leaves
vegetable oil for brushing skin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Transfer turkey from the freezer into the fridge to start thawing 3 days before roasting.
Making the Brine:
Start making the brine mixture 2 days before roasting. Take a large pot that will fit a gallon of liquid. We like to use a 5-quart pot. add in 16 cups, which is about 1 gallon of vegetable stock, 1 cup of kosher salt, half a cup of dark brown sugar, 1 tbsp of candied ginger that's been minced, 1 tbsp of black peppercorns, 1 tbsp of whole allspice berries, and 3 bay leaves.
Turn on to high heat, and let it come to boiling while occasionally stirring the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar completely. When the liquid starts to boil, you shouldn't feel or see any more granules of salt or sugar anymore. Turn off the flame, remove from the heat, and set this aside to come to room temperature.
When it reaches room temperature, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Brining the Turkey:
Brine the turkey the evening before roasting. Take a very large container, about 5 to 6 gallons in volume. Take your brine mixture, and transfer it into the giant container or pot. Add in 16 cups or about 1 gallon of ice water, and be very generous with the amount of ice. Mix this up till it is well combined.
Take your turkey out of the fridge, we usually aim for a 15-pound turkey, but you can use any size turkey you like. You'll just have to adjust your roasting time accordingly. Remove any parts or giblets from the cavity. And place the turkey breast-side down into the brine mixture, making sure the entire turkey is immersed in the liquid. Place the turkey in brine mixture back in the fridge, and let it brine for about 16 to 18 hours total.
Roasting the Turkey:
After 16 to 18 hours of brining and you're ready for roasting, remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. You can get rid of the brine at this point.
Place an oven rack in the lowest position, and preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 C), for a minimum of 10 minutes. Take a roasting tray, we like to use a half sheet pan that's 13" by 18", and put a metal rack on it. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on the metal rack.
Take a big piece of aluminum foil, and shape it into a triangle that's big enough to cover the breast of your turkey. Brush one side of the aluminum foil triangle with some vegetable oil so it doesn't stick to the turkey. While the turkey is not yet hot, fit the triangle on the turkey breast so you mold the triangle piece of foil to the shape of the turkey. This will be used later on to prevent the white meat from becoming overcooked and drying out. Set the molded piece of foil aside for now.
Take a microwave-safe dish, and add in 1 red apple that's been sliced (we like using Fuji apples), 1 yellow onion that's been sliced, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water. Mix them together, then microwave this for 5 minutes. If you don't have a microwave, you can also heat this in a saucepan on your stove.
With a slotted spoon, strain out the apple, onion, and cinnamon stick, and transfer into a mixing bowl. Add in 5 sprigs worth of rosemary that have been removed from the stem, and about 10 fresh sage leaves. Mix these into the heated apple and onion mixture. Transfer this mixture into the turkey's cavity.
Generously brush the skin of the turkey with vegetable oil. This will help the surfaces of the turkey crisp up while roasting.
Place the turkey on the oven rack in the lowest position with the legs in first (we want the dark meat to take more heat) and roast it in the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. The super high temperature will brown the skin and make it very crispy.
After 30 minutes of roasting at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, open the oven door, and carefully (because it's hot!) place the triangular piece of foil on top of the breast. It should fit easily since it was molded to the turkey shape earlier. Close the oven door.
Turn down the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting until the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit and the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For our 15-pound turkey, this will take an additional 2 1/2 hours to 3 1/2 hours of roasting at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The total roasting time will depend on the size of your turkey. For much smaller turkeys (like a 10-pound turkey) the roasting portion at 350 degrees Fahrenheit may be much less, so we'd recommend checking the temperature earlier.
Let the turkey rest for about 10 minutes to allow the turkey to continue cooking with the residual heat and the juices to redistribute. After 10 minutes, being careful because it's still hot, lift the metal rack with the turkey and transfer it onto another tray, freeing up the roasting pan the turkey was cooked in. Let the turkey continue resting while we work on making the gravy using the delicious drippings!
Making the Gravy:
While the turkey finishes resting, take a small saucepan, and transfer the turkey drippings and scrape bits of the crisped-up skin and oils from the baking tray into the saucepan. Add in 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of whole milk. Whisk in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, breaking up any lumps in the flour as much as possible.
Turn the flame on to medium heat, and bring this mixture to a simmer while continuing to whisk, until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. When it starts boiling, add in 2 tsp of fresh thyme and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until it thickens to your desired consistency.
Make sure to allow the turkey to rest for a total of 30 minutes before carving. Serve with the delicious homemade gravy. Enjoy!