Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cider-Brined, Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey

This year our Thanksgiving "theme" was back to the basics. As a family, we all brain-stormed our favorite Thanksgiving dishes from the last 20 years, and then re-invented them. This Turkey has always been a favorite, but brining the turkey in cider was a new addition to an old recipe that only basted the turkey with cider.

WOW what an amazing difference this brine made. As the turkey roasted it filled the house with scent of mulled cider. The bird needed only occasional basting (every 45 minutes as opposed to every 20 minutes), and was aromatic and incredibly juicy and moist. The gravy made from the pan droppings was also exceptional.... with the woodsy sweet flavors of apple and maple mingled with roast turkey.

Cider-Brined, Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey

1 14 lb turkey, thawed (if frozen)
2 quarts apple cider
2 quarts water
3/4 cup Kosher salt
1 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup dried allspice berries
3 sticks cinnamon
4 bay leaves

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup good quality maple syrup (I used Lahaie Farms Maple Syrup from Cheboygan, Michigan).

2-days before serving:
In a stock pot large enough to hold your turkey with some extra room at the top, combine cider, water, salt, molasses, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaves. Bring Brine to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (this will take several hours).

Rinse turkey and then slowly lower into brine, making certain the bird is completely submerged. If need, more water can be added to the brine until the bird is just covered. Place in a refrigerator or cold place and allow the bird to brine for 24-36 hours.

Serving Day:
Remove Turkey from Brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Place Turkey on rack in roasting pan and baste with melted butter. Ten the bird with aluminum foil and roast at 325 for approx 4-5 hours, basting with pan juices every 45 minutes and rotating the bird a 1/4 turn with each basting (for even browning). In the last hour before bird is finished, remove foil tent and baste the bird with maple syrup. This will turn the bird a deep mahogany color.

Remove pan drippings from pan to a large pyrex bowl and skim as much fat from the top as possible (reserving 1/4 cup of fat). In a large sauce pan, add reserved turkey fat and 1/4 flour. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, then add strained pan drippings and whisk until smooth. Add additional turkey or chicken stock (if needed) for desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

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