Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Turkey with Roasted Root Vegetables

This year I am used a heritage turkey, which is an ecologically and economically wise choice. This was also my first time brining a bird, having heard great things about the results, but I honestly didn't see much difference in the flavor or texture of the meat. I've included the instructions (from Martha) I followed here. I also love roasting root vegetables, and I make this combination of them often as a vegetarian side dish, even when I'm not serving poultry. It's easy to just place the chopped and steamed vegetables in a baking dish, and toss them with herbs and a little butter or olive oil, and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees.

1 turkey, 12-14 pounds
3 large turnips
6 parsnips
4 purple potatoes
8 carrots
2 yams
1 celeriac root
2 medium onions
1 bulb garlic
1 blub fennel
1/4 C fresh thyme leaves
2 medium apples
2 Tbs fennel seed
2 Tbs cumin
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C butter

For the brine:
7 quarts water
1 1/2 C kosher salt
6 bay leaves
2 Tbs whole coriander seeds
1 Tbs juniper berries
2 Tbs black peppercorns
1 Tbs fennel seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 bottle dry riesling
2 medium onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme

24 hours in advance, combine the brining ingredients in a large bucket or brining bag, and submerge the turkey. If necessary, weigh the bird down with a plate, so that it is fully submerged. Refrigerate or keep chilled in a cooler, turning over halfway through.

Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables into large and somewhat uniform sized pieces, and shell the garlic. Steam the turnips, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, yams, and potatoes until just tender. Toss all the vegetables with the olive oil, cumin, fennel, and fresh thyme. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan, and dot with butter.

After 24 hours, remove the bird from the brine and dispose of liquid. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rub the turkey all over with canola oil or butter, and place in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Stuff the cavity with the onions and herbs from the brine, or with stuffing if you prefer. Roast for 30 minutes, and then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Cover the breast of the turkey with a double layer of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Continue to roast for 2 1/2 hours more, or until the temperature of the meat is about 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow the turkey to sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.

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