Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

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Today marks the first anniversary of my food blog Graceful Cuisine!  And just like all of my firsts in life, I am eager to celebrate it and capture the moment creatively.  Incidentally, this also marks my 100th blog post so that gives me two reasons to celebrate!  This year is definitely a special milestone, as it has been a transforming experience keeping an online food journal after launching my blog during a transitional period of my [medical] professional life.

And as always, I would be remiss if I didn’t mark this anniversary by thanking you, my dear readers, for stopping by my site.  Perhaps some of you have stumbled upon my blog since I first launched it last fall, and of course some of you actually know me outside of these blog pages.  For those friends who have commented that I haven’t been blogging for the past two months, I beg your forgiveness!  But today I recognize all of you, who make it worth my while to write and share with you all that I know from my kitchen.  The time you take to lend me your support and comments make my life indelibly richer, and for this I am forever thankful.

How suiting it is to celebrate my one year anniversary and 100th blog post all the while Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  The timing made my choice easy when I was deciding between posting a turkey recipe and a cake recipe.  Of course, I missed Thanksgiving Day for my Canadian readers, but I’m grateful to have a second chance with another Thanksgiving coming up on November 22, 2012.  When I choose my turkey, plan for about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person.  It’s always better to be generous, and you can always think of creative things to do for turkey leftovers.  Maybe I’ll post a cake recipe for you next week.  What would you like to see?

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Grocery list

For the brine
1 all-natural or standard turkey, unseasoned
2 cups Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp juniper berries
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 lemon

For the ginger scallion butter
1 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground cloves

For the gravy
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium onions
Neck and giblets from the turkey (discard liver)
8 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs thyme, parsley, and rosemary
1 bay leaf
Turkey drippings from your pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

If your turkey is frozen, thaw unwrapped in the refrigerator on a large plate for at least 24 hours.  You may require longer thawing times for larger birds.

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and save them for the gravy.  Rinse the turkey well under cold running water, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Using a coarse grater, grate the peel from the lemon.  Fill a large part of water with 2 quarts water.  Add the salt, sugar, juniper berries, bay leaves, peppercorns, and the lemon zest.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Pour the hot brine into a large bowl or the turkey roaster.  Add 4 quarts cold water and let cool.  Submerge the turkey in the brine, adding water to cover the turkey if necessary.  Refrigerate overnight.  If your bowl or roaster is not large enough to allow the brine to cover the turkey, be sure to turn the turkey at least once halfway through.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

The following day at least an hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine, discarding the brine.  Rinse the turkey and pat dry.  In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, parsley, sage, thyme, pepper, paprika, and ground cloves.  Use a fork to mix the ingredients well.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Reserve 4 tablespoons of the butter mixture and save it in the refrigerator for later use.  Separate the skin from the turkey breasts carefully by pulling it away from the meat with your fingers.  Rub the remaining herb butter under the turkey skin on the breasts and legs, and also all over the skin of the whole turkey.  Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350oF with a rack in the lowest part of the oven.  Tuck the wing tips underneath the turkey.  Place the turkey breast-side up on a roasting rack set in a large roasting pan.  Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.  Roast until the skin is nicely browned, the juices run clear, or until an instant thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees.  This will take about 15 minutes per pound of turkey.  So a 10-pound turkey will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Be sure to check the turkey once halfway through.  If the skin is getting too dark, tent lightly with aluminum foil and continue roasting.

As soon as the turkey goes into the oven, start the gravy.  Melt the 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and turkey neck and giblets; cook, stirring, until the giblets are browned (15 minutes).  Add the chicken broth, herb sprigs and bay leaf.  Cover and simmer while the turkey roasts, about 2 hours. Strain the broth and keep warm.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Pour all the pan drippings into a degreasing cup.  Add 1/2 cup of the prepared gravy broth to the roasting pan and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Add the bits and the liquid to the degreasing cup, and let the fat rise to the top.  Spoon off 1/2 cup of fat and transfer to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle flour into the pan and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the flour browns slightly (about 4 minutes).  Gradually add the warm broth to the flour mixture, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Pour the pan juices from the degreasing cup into the gravy, discarding the remaining fat.  Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the gravy thickens.  Whisk the reserved 4 tbsp of the herb butter into your gravy and season with salt and pepper just before serving.

Serve with stuffing and gravy on the side.

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

Classic herb butter on juniper brined turkey

     

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