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This is How You Make Juicy Turkey with Pan Gravy

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Brine your turkey and you won't have to drink a gallon of wine to wash down sawdust! Instead, blame your family for causing you to hit the sauce at 9am!

Thanksgiving is my Super Bowl. Every year I host our big, crazy, rag-tag group of family and friends on my favorite day of the year. I start cooking days in advance: sausage and apple cornbread stuffing, roasted root vegetables, homemade get the idea. But we all know the star of the show is that big, juicy turkey, and the best way to yield a mouth watering flavorful turkey is to brine it!

Brining meat is the a simple curing process of submerging your protein of choice into a solution of water, salt, sugar, and spices. In this case, it will be our whole, uncooked Thanksgiving turkey. We science the shiitake out of this turkey every year. What happens on a scientific level is something called "osmosis". The salt causes moisture to move through cell walls, equalizing the salinity on both sides of the cell wall. When this happens, more moisture is attracted to the cell thereby making a solution. The result, juicy turkey. I hereby present, my brining process!

Turkey Brine

Yield 1 gallon

Water 2 quarts

Kosher salt 1 cup

Brown sugar 2 cups

Ice 3 quarts by volume

Method of prep

Bring water to a boil. Add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. You can add other ingredients as desired, such as cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, chopped onion, etc. Remove liquid from the heat. Add ice to liquid to cool instantly. This reduces the salinity of the water and cools the water so that poultry can be submerged more quickly. Brine must be below 38 degrees before adding poultry. Add poultry and brine for 8-12 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. Remove poultry from brine and pat dry. Allow to chill in fridge for 24 hours in order to develop a “pellicle” or tacky skin. This will yield a crispy skin when roasting poultry.

You may need to double or triple the recipe for this brine to suit the size of your Thanksgiving bird. I find it best to brine my turkey in a clean cooler with plenty of ice. The turkey must be completely submerged in the brine in order to achieve maximum juiciness. Keep a constant watch on the turkey temperature, which should remain below 41 degrees. Invest in thermometers, folks!

Roast Turkey

Serves 8

Whole turkey, brined 12 pounds

Carrot, rough chop 1 cup

Onion, rough chop 2 cups

Celery, rough chop 1 cup

Bay leaves 2

Turkey or chicken stock 2 cups

Turkey rub

Pro Seasoning 2 tablespoons

Rubbed sage 1 teaspoon

Canola oil ½ cup

Method of prep:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients for turkey rub together in a medium sized bowl. Rub the turkey with the spices until completely coated, including under the skin. Next, in a large roasting pan with a rack, add carrots, onions, celery, bay leaves, and stock. Place turkey breast side up on the rack and place rack over the vegetables. Roast turkey uncovered for 30 minutes. Drop the oven heat to 350 degrees and roast for 2.5 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey reached 170 degrees. If the turkey becomes too brown, tent with aluminum foil. If you have a larger or smaller bird, the rule is typically 15 minutes per pound. Temp your turkey in a few places deep in the breast and thigh to ensure the turkey is cooked. Remove the entire rack the turkey is cooking on, and place on a cutting board with drip channels for drippings. Tent the bird with aluminum foil and cover with 2 clean kitchen towels. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Pan Gravy

Serves 8

Pan drippings from roasted turkey or chicken

Chicken or turkey stock 2 cups

Flour ¼ cup

Method of prep:

Remove all contents out of the roasting pan. Do not clean roasting pan. The bits of food stuck to the bottom are called “fond”. Think of the fond as a foundation to build sauce on. Those bits of fond are flavor bombs that will make or break your gravy. Strain vegetables out of the liquid, while pouring liquid into a gravy separator. Allow fat to rise to the top of the separator. Gently remove ¼ cup of fat from the top of the gravy separator. Heat fat in roasting pan until it slightly sizzles over medium heat. Add flour to the fat and stir to make a paste. This is a “roux” and it is the thickening agent in the gravy. Add pan drippings slowly while stirring, making sure not to add any more fat. Adjust thickness of the gravy with the stock. Season to taste.

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I found my brine mix and, damn, I’m doing it! Wasn’t even planning on cooking it this way until I read this! I can’t wait! TYN

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