Baking and cooking is one of my greatest joys. Being able to serve my family and friends fills my heart up with happiness. Experimenting in the kitchen is another one of my favorite hobbies. My husband, Nicolas and I have a saying in our house, if said experiment fails to epic proportions: We can always order pizza. Luckily, we’ve only had to do this once. I actually blocked out what it was that failed so that part is irrelevant.
I volunteered to do The Turkey for Thanksgiving last year. I was ready. I practiced roasting whole chickens, which I was able to do successfully. I knew that this could be step one to a successful turkey roast. However, life doesn’t always go as planned (go figure!) and I ended up in the ER on Thanksgiving and was unable to fulfill the Julia Child in me and roast a darn turkey.
Come Easter time…. I still had a frozen turkey taking up precious real estate in the freezer. Not only did I want to get rid of it but I also wanted to tackle a great feat and bucket list item. Enter frozen Butterball.
I decided to turn to my most trusted cook – Alton Brown. I have friends who have made his turkey in the past with success. However, the list of ingredients is daunting to say the least. It also includes brining… sayyy whaaaa?!
Five days before Easter, I commissioned Nicolas to get a 5 gallon bucket from Lowe’s for me so that I could brine the turkey. Three days before the feast, we removed the turkey from the freezer and placed it in the fridge to thaw.
Scrumptious, eh? (Kidding).
Next, you make the brine. This consists of an uber amount of salt, water, ice, some more water, peppercorns, vegetable stock, light brown sugar, candied ginger, and allspice berries. I didn’t have the latter two so I nixed them…
Once the brine is brought to a boil, ya let it cool off for a bit to release some of the heat and anger (not really). Once it comes to room temperature, place it in the fridge until you are ready to brine the young bird.
I started the brining process about 24 hours beforehand. Once the turkey is thawed, place it in your big ol’ bucket (breast side down) along with it’s new besties – ice, water, and brine mixture. Let that sit for 8 or more hours in a cool place in the house. Turn it about half way through. Once the time is up and you are ready to get ‘er done… rinse the bird inside and out under cold water. This is me when I was pulling it out. Pretty nasty…. just kinda freaks me out… every whole raw bird does… don’t ask… (probably why it’s on my bucket list to begin with – face your fears!)
Once you wash it, scrub it, flip it and reverse it (anyone?)… dry it off with some paper towels. Get the roasting pan on the ready and fire up the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and you may discard the brine at this point.
While the oven is working it, chop up some onions and apples then place it in a bowl with a cinnamon stick (didn’t have one) and a cup of water. Microwave on high for five minutos.
Once those are steeped, place the apples and onions (and cinnamon stick if you got it) inside the cavity of the turkey. Then add some sage and rosemary. Tuck the wings under and coat liberally with oil – I used olive oil. Alton calls for canola. Tomayto, tomotto.
Pop that bird in the ol’ oven for about 30 minutes. Watch it bake. Bask in the warmness. Set a timer. You won’t regret it.
Once you hear the ding dong of your timer, place a thermometer into the thickest part of the bird and roast for an hour more or until the thickest part of the breast registers 161 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine didn’t take that long… it was actually done in about 40 minutes or so. Here she is in all her roasting glory, freshly baked (get your head out of the gutter).
What a beaut! Julia would be proud, I think. At this point, let it sit for a good 15 minutes to let the juices settle. Enlist a friend to help you carve. Using your fingers at some point is inevitable. I’m not above it. Here are some glorious after pictures. I was a proud mama, to say the least. It was tasty, not gonna lie. And having family enjoy it with me?! Even better. Eat, drink, and be merry.