Since my sister-in-law's family and mine joined forces for the holidays, we've had turkey sandwiches for Christmas Eve. This year, I changed it up and had turkey manhattans as an option. The non-baker actually made a couple of loaves of buttermilk bread for the base of the manhattans. You'll get to read about the bread later. It was fantastic!! The mashed potatoes were simply russets - cut up and cooked then smashed with low-fat Philly and a bit of 2% milk. Because the peels have so much good stuff in them, I didn't even peel the potatoes. The gravy, well, I totally cheated and bought some of the jars at the grocery. The turkey, though, was a production. And, what a successful production.
Last time I made a whole turkey and combined two recipes for the brine. This time, I used Alton Brown's brine recipe (one of the two I used on Thanksgiving) but I totally made up my rubs. This is the most moist turkey I've ever had. I'd planned on slicing it then putting it into some broth to warm it up for the turkey manhattans. It didn't need broth at all. We actually cooked the turkey breasts on Thursday the 23rd. Sunday the 26th we were still eating leftovers and the meat was still moist as all get out. We're looking forward to a couple more days of leftovers!
Brined Turkey Breast
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 T black peppercorns
1 1/2 t allspice berries
1 1/2 t candied ginger
For the under skin paste:
1 large onion, sliced
2 t rosemary
1/2 c apple cider
1/2 c white wine
For the on the skin rub:
1/2 c olive oil
1 t crushed rosemary
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T finely chopped garlic
To make the brine:
Because I brined the turkey at the office, I did it a bit differently. I put a couple of cups of water in a saucepan, then added the other ingredients - including a couple of large dollops of vegetable base. Once the salt and vegetable base had dissolved, I poured everything into a thermos and took the brine base, turkey breasts and big stockpot into the office. Once there, I unwrapped the thawed turkeys (they take 2-3 days to thaw in the fridge) and rinsed them then plopped them into the stockpot. I poured the brine base over them then filled the stockpot with cold water to cover. I left the turkeys in the brine for almost 12 hours. Then, I took them home and finished up. I did not rinse them after pouring the brine off.
To make the under the skin paste:
Slice the onion and saute it until very soft in a small amount of olive oil. Once it's started to soften, pour in the cider and the white wine. Add the rosemary.
When the liquid has almost totally evaporated, add the garlic. When all you have is a bit of syrup, remove the pan from the heat.
Allow the mixture to cool a bit then puree it in the blender or food processor.
Rub it under the skin.
It'll be lumpy as all get out. That's ok!
To make the on the skin rub:
Mix all the ingredients
and rub thoroughly into the turkey skin.
Put the turkey back in the stockpot and refrigerate it overnight.
To roast the turkey:
Preheat the oven to 500. Remember it's easier to rearrange the racks while they're cool...the voice of experience speaking here! Put the turkey on a roasting rack and roast it for 30 minutes at 500. Then, if you have one, put a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, tent the turkey with foil and put it back in the oven at 350. For a 14-16 lb bird it should require another 90-120 minutes. Once the turkey reaches 161, remove it from the oven and tent it with foil. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Before carving, remove the skin and toss it.
adapted from Alton Brown's turkey recipe on FoodTV.