Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Superman Turkey

This is my absolute favorite turkey, hands down. It got the name "superman turkey" because of a cooking method I use to have a perfectly crispy skin but a moist bird, that involves making an aluminum foil "shield" for the turkey to wear. It will make you laugh, just warning you now. Your turkey will look like a little knight or a superhero of some sort. And let's face it, it's way more fun to eat a cute turkey in a costume than it is to eat some plain, boring poultry with no sense of humor.

Moving on.....

First step: you want to brine your turkey. The high amount of salt will allow your turkey to absorb the liquid and flavor, making a juicy flavorful bird.
1 c salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1T whole black peppercorns
1/2 T allspice berries
1/2 T candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients except ice water in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until completely chilled. Early on the day of cooking (or late the night before), combine the brine and the ice water in a clean (do I really need to say that?) 5 gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey breast side down in the brine. Cover and set in a cool area for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, halfway through brining.

As I've stated before, I don't stuff my turkey, I use aromatics. Here's my favorite blend:
1 red apple, sliced into wedges
1/2 onion, sliced into wedges
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
1c water

Okay, on to cooking:
A few minutes before roasting, heat your oven to 500 (yes, 500) degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and water in a bowl and microwave for 5 minutes. Remove turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide low pan, and pat dry with paper towels. Add the steeped aromatics to the cavity, along with rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings back (pull them up and out, then tuck the tips behind the shoulders like he's just lounging. He'll look super cute and relaxed). Coat liberally with canola or other neutral oil (NOT olive oil, as it has a lower temperature tolerance. It will smoke you out of your house. I recommend canola or peanut oil).

Roast your turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the breast with a double layer of aluminum foil (get a large square and fold it in half into a triangle. Place it on the breast, point down, flat side on the top toward neck. Pinch a section of it to make a handle to make it easier to remove). Insert a probe into the thickest part of the breast and return it to the oven, reducing oven temp to 350. Set the thermometer alarm to 161 (yes, 161) degrees. A 12 pound bird should require 2 - 2 1/2 hours. (15 - 20 min. per pound). Let the turkey rest, loosely covered, for 15 minutes before carving.

*If you want to skip the brine (some people do), I recommend mixing some softened butter and some sage leaves and slipping it between the skin and the meat of the turkey, all over the bird. That way you'll at least get some flavor in there.

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