The week before Thanksgiving, Kroger was having amazing sales on turkey. They were half price with your shoppers card, then there was a coupon in the circular for $10 off when you spend $100 on groceries. I got a 13 lb. turkey for $9.50, used my $10 off coupon, and ended up saving $.50 and getting a free turkey! I put it in the freezer because I had no idea when I'd make it. I offered it to my mom for Thankgsiving, but she needed a bigger turkey.
I was telling my friend Allison about it, and how I only buy breasts because JJ and I don't eat dark meat. She said her and her husband love dark meat, so we decided to have a Thanksgiving dinner part 2 and JJ and I would eat the white meat and they would eat the dark!
I wanted to do something different, so I tried out brining my turkey. I looked up a few recipes for a brine, and decided to use apple cider and spices because I was going to make an apple stuffing. I also thought an apple flavor in the gravy would be great.
For the turkey itself, I used a few of my favorite aromatics and loosely stuffed it. It baked up beautifully and was SO tender and delicious!
I was worried about brining it because I didn't have a bucket to put it in, but then I found turkey sized oven bags, so I made the brine in the bad, and put it in a soup pot for support, though the turkey was a bit taller than the soup pot.
8 c. apple cider
1 c. kosher salt
1 c. brown sugar
10 bay leaves
20 allspice berries
1 head of garlic, smashed
8 c. cold water
Place a bag inside a pot, whisk the cider, salt and brown sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, drop in the turkey (which should be washed and trimmed first) and completely submerge in the brine. Refrigerate for at least 1 day (I did mine for 36 hours).
Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Place in a roasting pan.
1 apple, quartered
10 baby carrots
2 celery stalks, chunked
1 onion, chunked
2 garlic cloves, cracked
10 sage leaves
1 bunch of thyme
1 stick of butter, softened
Salt and pepper
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. apple cider
Stuff the apple, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, and 6 sage leaves in the turkey cavity.
Gently lift up the skin and smear 1/4 of the butter between the skin and breast. Place 2 sage leaves under the skin on each side.
Smear the remaining butter on top of the turkey. Season with salt and pepper generously.
Pour the stock and cider into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Heat oven to 425, roast turkey for 20 minutes.
Lower heat to 325, roast for 3 hours (for a 13 lb. turkey, times vary).
Baste every 20 minutes, cover with tin foil if turkey begins to brown too much on top (I did this after 1 hour).
Remove from the oven and let turkey rest for 20 minutes.
Pour drippings into a gravy seperator.
2 c. pan drippings
1/2 c. flour
2-4 c. chicken stock
Pour drippings (less fat on top) into a pot. Heat over medium-high. Sprinkle in flour, whisk until smooth. Add in chicken stock to reach desired viscosity. Add pepper, taste for seasonings.
(The bird pre roasting)