As seen in Russian Chicago Magazine
Turkey…A Thanksgiving must! However, it has always amazed me that such a simple bird can yield such unpredictable results. Overcooked, undercooked, dry, I have seen it all with my clients. So when my client asked me how to make a full-proof turkey I vowed to find an easy and guaranteed method. Brining came out as the winner. The process of brining makes meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis. I kept the flavors simple with lots of citrus and herbs just to enhance the flavors of the turkey meat. Based on all the cooking that I did in professional kitchens there is only one way to go in terms of a cooking method: start on a high temperature then turn it low. Time after time this recipe has proven to be reliable and easy. My client created this turkey for his family and had everyone thinking it was catered!
Perfect Citrus Turkey
14 to 16 pound frozen young turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
zest of 2 oranges
zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 cup orange juice
2 gallons heavily iced water
1.Combine all the ingredients in a large plastic bag, I used a garbage bag.
2.Place the thawed turkey breast side down in brine. I used a pot for this turkey, because it was small enough.
3. Cover the turkey and refrigerate for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining. I used my garage as a storage space since it is so cold out now.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoons chopped tyme
1 tablespoon chopped sage
zest and juice of one orange
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups of chicken stock
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
1. The next day, remove the turkey out of the brine and rinse it inside and out with water.
2. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and place on a roasting rack on top of a sheet pan or roasting pan.
3.Combine all the ingredients, except the water and brush on the oil and herb mixture. Make sure you get the breastside as well as the underside. Get into all those little nooks and crannies, you want every piece of this turkey to taste wonderful!
4. Fill the cavity with the oranges and lemons that were juiced and zested.
5. Before placing it in the oven, take a piece of foil and measure it on the bird into a little triangle. You want it to just cover the breast. Place the triangle to the side, it will be used a bit later on.
6. Place the turkey onto the lowest rack in the oven and let it roast for 30 minutes and 500 degrees. NO PEEKING! Because it is roasting on such a high temperature, all the juices that fall into your roasting pan may evaporate off and start to burn. During this time you want to add in your chicken stock just a bit at a time, so that your bits don’t burn. This can be done throughout the entire cooking process to prevent the bits from burning and leaving perfect pan juices for a gravy.
*One of the easiest way to make an roast perfect is an internal probe thermometer. Especially one that you can set the temperature alarm on. It makes life simple and your roast moist! All you have to do is stick in the thermometer and wait for the alarm to go off!*
7. After the first half hour, take out the turkey and cover the breast with your pre-measured foil.
8. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
9. Set your probe thermometer alarm to 151 degrees F and walk away. (A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.)
10. Once it’s done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes, covered with foil.
11. Carve and serve!
*I always carve my turkey before I serve it to the guests. This actually enables me to make the turkey hours before they get there. That way, I can carve it, stick it into a sheet pan, cover with foil and reheat in the oven right before the guests get there. In case anyone wants to see what my turkey looks like before I cut it, I take pictures for proof! Alton Brown has an awesome video here on how to properly carve a turkey. By carving the breast this way, you get a much moister turkey breast.*
Now, the gravy. The pan drippings from this turkey were really wonderful so the gravy is really simple. Just make a rough with a bit of the fat from the pan drippings and some flour. Slowly pour in some white wine and the turkey juices (no fat). Add in seasoning and some chopped fresh herbs. Heat up when ready to serve and you’re done!