The Thanksgiving menu

Are you thinking about Thanksgiving food yet?  I am. I am cooking this year, I’m not sure for how many people yet, so I am thinking about what I am going to have on the menu. 
Turkey is a for sure in our house.  I love roasted turkey.  I know many people don’t like turkey but I love it and it is just not Thanksgiving without it. And how would I have my traditional turkey sandwich in the evening?  But, since some of the people joining me for Thanksgiving are not as fond of turkey as I am, I think we will also be having ham. 

Several years ago, Mr. G and I saw an episode of “Good Eats” with Alton Brown in which he brined a turkey.  We tried it that year and have been believers ever since.  If you have never heard of or done this it may sound weird but I promise you that it will deliver the tastiest and moistest turkey ever. 

Here’s the recipe:

NOTE:  You need a BIG bucket or ice chest.  We actually bought one of those 5 gallon buckets from Lowes, washed it out, and use it strictly for this once a year.   


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
(Notes from Tracey:  I leave out the ginger because I don’t care for the taste of ginger very much.  And, I have done the brine both with and without the brown sugar.  I kind of prefer it without the sugar.)

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
(Notes from Tracey:  I don’t care for rosemary so I actually sub in celery stalks, and I use citrus—a lemon and an orange instead of the apple and the cinnamon.  That is just my taste.  I use similar aromatics when I roast a chicken)

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.


One thought on “The Thanksgiving menu

  1. Can I come over and cook with you sometime? :-)Wanna know a secret? I have NEVER cooked a turkey. Isn't that crazy? Because I LOVE turkey…and the traditional turkey sandwich that night. But, my mom and mother-in-law always cook the turkey… Maybe one of these days, I'll just cook one for our little family.

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