Even though, over the last few years, my mother tends to favor lamb and roe deer meat in her Christmas menu, poultry was always featured on my family’s feast table during the holidays. Capon and turkey being the most favored poultry for holiday celebration in my mother’s kitchen, and now in mine.
As you could have guessed, this year was no exception. Like last year, turkey was the pièce de résistance on our table. In my humble opinion, turkey is the mainstay of Christmas feast. It’s also the perfect poultry for large gatherings during the holiday seasons. In fact, without being over expensive, turkeys are affordable and big enough to feed a large crowd.
Because turkey tends to have bland flesh, it’s important to add some flavor to the meat by brining it. Brining is just a process that consists of soaking something (in this case turkey) in salty water or solution. And it also helps keeping the meat moist, mainly because soaking it in a brine first, reduce moisture loss during cooking time. As a result, your turkey will remain moist because brining enhances juiciness. For better result, brine the turkey for 10-12 hours or overnight.
Last year, I stuffed my turkey with a corn bread, however in 2016, I chose to do something completely different by stuffing it with sausage meat and chestnut sausage. The result wasn’t quite the same because the stuffing contained less bread and more meat.
Prep: 60 min Cook: 3 hours & 30 min 8 Servings
A whole turkey of 4 Kg or 9 lbs
¼ cup of Butter, melted
2 teaspoons of fresh Thyme
½ cup of White wine
⅛ cup of Chicken broth
½ cup of Kosher salt
¼ cup of Brown sugar
⅛ cup of Black pepper corns
4 cloves of Garlic
4 Bay leaves
2 Dried chilies chipotle, whole
1 Apple, cut in quarters
4 Celery branches, cut in half
4 liters of water
Sausage meat stuffing:
165 g of plain Sausage meat
2 Chestnut Sausages, from my Local butcher
1 Kaiser Roll, toasted and cut in dices
1 and ¼ cups of Chicken broth (or Vegetable broth according to your preference)
½ cup of toasted Pine nuts, roughly crushed
½ cup of Onions purée
½ cup of dried Apricots, finely minced
¼ cup of Brandy
2 teaspoons of Chili flakes
- In a saucepan, over medium-heat, heat two (2) liters of water with kosher salt, brown sugar, dried chilies and bay leaves. Boil for 5 minutes and remove it from the heat. Let it cool.
- Salt and pepper the top of the turkey and its cavity. Transfer the turkey into a large plastic bag. Add garlic, black pepper corns, celery branches, the remaining two (2) liters of water and quarters of apple. Pour in the liquid from step one (1) and seal the plastic bag. Let it brine in the fridge for 10-12 hours.
- In a mixing bowl, mix chicken broth with bread dices. Add sausage meat, the meat of the chestnut sausage, chili flakes, dried apricots, brandy, toasted pine nuts and salt. Don’t hesitate to use hands to mix. Set aside.
- After at least 10 hours of soaking in the salty solution, remove the turkey from the brining liquid. Place the bird on a rack inside a roasting pan. Tap the turkey with towel paper to remove moisture.
- Stuff the turkey with sausage meat stuffing. Place celery branches and two onions cut in half on the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour ½ cup of wine and ⅛ cup of chicken broth in the roasting pan to prevent cooking juices from burning. Brush the top of the turkey with melted thyme butter.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place the turkey in an oven preheated at 375 °F. Let it roast for 2 hours before removing the aluminum foil. Then let the turkey cook for another 1 hour and 30 minutes, make sure to brush the bird with melted thyme butter every 15-20 minutes once you remove the aluminum foil. It will keep it moist.
When the internal temperature in the breast reaches 170 °F and 180 °F in the thigh on an instant-read thermometer, turn off the oven and remove the bird from the oven.
Let the turkey rest for another 20 minutes before carving it.
Serve with sautéed carrots and green beans.
Table salt is two times saltier than Kosher salt, so if you use table salt instead of kosher salt for brining your turkey, make sure to divide the quantity in two i.e. use ¼ cup instead ½ cup.
Letting meat brine overnight gives better result.
Use the juices let in the roasting pan to make the gravy.
The onion purée used is simply yellow onions and green onions mixed in the food processor. I store it in a mason jar and add one tablespoon of vegetal oil to prevent the onions from oxidizing once in the fridge.