I really hate cooking turkey. I used to, anyway. I mean, I still hate carving the thing. Brining was always a pain in my ass, too, but I always felt the need to or risk having a dry turkey. Well, folks, have I got news for you! The easiest way to cook your Thanksgiving bird is to spatchcock it, or cut out the backbone, allowing it to lay flat and cook evenly in under 90 minutes. Meanwhile, brining just water logs the turkey and makes it tastes like water or apple juice. ‘Curing’ the turkey with salt, however, gives the same benefit of breaking down the muscle fibres to make it moist and juicy, but without taking on the flavour of anything other than delicious turkey.
- 6–7 kg turkey, spatchcocked/butterflied, backbone, neck and giblets reserved
- 1-2 cups sea salt
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried rosemary or 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
- olive oil, to rub
- mashed potatoes, to serve
- 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1.4 litres homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 45 g unsalted butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Curing time overnight
Resting time 20 minutes
You will neeed to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
First, prep the turkey by patting very dry. Rub the salt all over the turkey, inside and out, and under the skin. Place in a large zip-lock bag, then seal and refrigerate overnight to cure.
When you're ready to cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 230ºC. Toss the vegetables and rosemary together, then spread over a roasting pan. Place a wire rack on top of the vegetables in the pan, then set aside.
Rinse the turkey under cold running water and pat very dry. (I didn't, but if you're worried about it being too salty, go ahead.) Rub the turkey all over with olive oil, then place in the wire rack in the roasting pan and roast for 1 hour 10 minutes–1 hour 20 minutes or until a breast registers 65ºC and a thigh register 75ºC when the thickest parts are measured with a thermometer. Rest turkey, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Reserve the pan juices for the gravy.
Meanwhile, for the gravy, roughly chop the reserved giblets, neck and backbone into 5-10 cm pieces. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the giblets, neck and backbone, and cook for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and cook, stirring, for 5–6 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute or until just fragrant. Add the stock and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the gravy is simmering. Cook, skimming off any fat from the surface, for 45 minutes for flavours to infuse. Strain the gravy into a large bowl, discarding solids and skimming off fat. Wipe the saucepan clean, then add the butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, whisk constantly, for 1–2 minutes or until browned. Whisking constantly, pour the strained broth into the flour mixture, a little at a time, only adding more once incorporated. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or until the gravy is reduced to about 1 litre (4 cups).
Add the turkey pan juices to the gravy and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to use (you can also reheat later, if need be).
Serve the turkey with the gravy, and mashed potatoes, of course.
Recipe from The Crepes of Wrath by Sydney Kramer, with photography by Sydney Kramer.
View our interview with Sydney and more recipes from her blog here.