recipes/turkey

Tips for the Perfect Holiday Turkey

Brining and roasting tips to make you a hero at the holiday table.

Spray Creek Roast Turkey

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Classic Brined and Roasted Turkey

  • For best results brine your turkey beginning the evening before using the instructions below
  • Take the turkey out of the brine (or out of the fridge) at least one hour before roasting and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat your oven to 500°F/260°C.
  • Dry the turkey thoroughly.
  • Loosely pack turkey with a combination of local herbs, carrots, celery, apple and onion (optional).  Don’t stuff the turkey!
  • Rub the turkey liberally with butter, salt and pepper the bird (omit salt if you have brined the turkey).
  • Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan on a rack so hot air can move around the whole bird.
  • Place turkey in the oven and roast until nicely browned, 30–40 minutes.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and cover with heavy-duty aluminium foil to protect the breast and drumsticks.  If you have a remote oven thermometer now is a good time to stick it into the deepest part of the breast.
  • Turn the oven down to 350°F/175°C and return the turkey to the oven.
  • Continue roasting until your thermometer registers 165°F/74°C for breast and 180°F/80°C for thigh, roughly 1–2½ hours depending on size.
  • Remove the bird from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 30 minutes. This is important, not least to prevent the carver from being scalded!  Save pan drippings for gravy.
  • To make gravy: Mix pan drippings with water, broth (you can make extra broth with the neck and giblets), and fine flour or cornstarch. Heat and wisk in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened.
  • Feel good about your celebration, knowing that you are supporting a local farm and an ethical and regenerative way of raising animals for meat.

How to Brine a Turkey

  • The evening before roasting, unwrap the turkey and place it in a food-grade container big enough to hold the turkey submerged in water.  An igloo/cooler can work well for this, or find a food-grade plastic bucket.
  • Pour 2 L / ½ gal hot water in the container and add 450 g / 1 lb of salt (fine salt will dissolve easier if you have it).  You can also add ⅔ cup sugar if you’re into that.
  • Stir until dissolved.
  • Add 8 L / 2 gal ice water.
  • If this isn’t enough liquid to cover the turkey add more salt & water at a ratio of 450g / 1 lb salt to 10 L / 2.5 gal water.
  • Brine the turkey for 8-16 hours, checking periodically to make sure it stays 4°C or below.  Add ice packs if needed.
  • Rinse the turkey very well and soak in fresh cool water for a few minutes.
  • Dry the turkey very well and allow to rest on the counter for at least 30 min before roasting.
  • The only downside to roasting a brined bird is that the pan drippings may be too salty for gravy making. You can usually get around that by mixing the drippings with 1 cup H20, a cup or two low/no-salt broth, and a cornstarch slurry.

How to Carve a Turkey

  • Cut the skin between the breast and leg.  Pull legs away from the body until thigh bones pop. Cut away the legs. Separate thighs and drumsticks at the joints. Place all parts on a cutting board and carve parallel to the bone.
  • Remove the breast meat in two lobes and place skin side up on cutting board. Slice crosswise against the grain. (For longer, thinner slices, leave breast attached and carve parallel to the breastbone.)
  • Pull wings away from the shoulders and cut wings at joints. Serve wings whole.