(Nov. 2017 Note: I'm getting away from wet brining now, in a few days I'll post something about dry brining, but in the meantime, here's Alton's stuff)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon chicken stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
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. 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 the 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. (Mom used butter - let your conscience be your guide...)
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 161º. A bird that weights 14 to 16 pounds 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.
3 packages Turkey Gravy Mix (if you grilled your bird and/or you don't have drippings to make enough gravy)
Any usable pan drippings from the turkey
3 Tsp Thyme
¼ cup flour
¾ cup water
Several sprigs of fresh Rosemary and Sage
Cook Gravy Mix as directed on package. Stir in ½ cup pan drippings from turkey to gravy after it has thickened.
In a separate container mix flour and water together thoroughly and stir into gravy.
Rub Thyme between palms and add to gravy.
Squeeze in juice from ½ lemon.
Whisk repeatedly with fresh Rosemary and Sage sprigs until ready to serve.
Apricot Stuffing, (Some call it..."Dressing"...)
Prep and cook time: About 1-1/2 hours
Makes: About 12 cups:
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1-1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cube (3/8 lb.) butter or margarine
2 cups coarsely chopped celery
1 onion (1/2 lb) peeled and chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 bag (1lb) herb stuffing mix
1 jar (8oz) plum sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 to 2 cups fat skimmed chicken broth
salt and pepper
In a 1 to 2 quart pan over high heat, bring apricots and orange juice to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently stir 1/2 cup butter, celery, and onion until vegetables are limp, about 15 minutes. Add almonds and stir until nuts are golden, 6 to 10 minutes longer. Scrape mixture into a large bowl.
In the same frying pan over medium high heat, frequently stir-sausage, crumbling with spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes. Drain and discard fat; add sausage to bowl. Add apricots with orange juice, stuffing mix, plum sauce, and thyme; mix well.
In the frying pan, combine 1/4 cup butter and 1 cup broth; stir often over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Drizzle over mixture in bowl, mixing to moisten evenly; dressing will be crumbly. For a more moist dressing, mix in up to 1 more cub broth. Add salt and pepper to tats. Spoon dressing into a shallow 3 quart casserole. (if making up to 1 day ahead, cover and chill.)
Bake in a 350 degree oven (uncovered for crusty dressing, covered tightly for moist dressing) until hot (at least 150 degrees in center), 25 to 30 minutes (55 to 60 minutes if chilled).
Sauteed Green Beans
(See below for Green Bean Casserole)
5 slices bacon
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 Lb. fresh green beans
1/4 cup butter
Place bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat; lightly brown both sides. Add the almonds to the skillet, saute until light golden brown.
Remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the bacon drippings. Crumble or chop bacon, and return to the skillet. Melt the butter in with the drippings. Add the green beans; cook and stir until tender, about 8 minutes.
Fresh Cranberry Compote
6 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon orange zest - We left the orange zest out this year and liked the results better than the usual recipe. I used a dash or two of almond extract instead.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
In a non reactive, non-stick saucepan, over medium, combine the cranberries, zest, 1/2 cup sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the orange juice. Add the mixture to the cranberries and stir to blend. Simmer another 15 minutes until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Baked Mashed Potatoes
3 large potatoes – scrubbed
½ stick butter
Nutmeg – ground
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter – melted
½ cup green onions – chopped
Preheat oven to 400F. Place potatoes on baking sheet and bake until tender, about one hour. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out into large mixing bowl, reserving skins. Add 1/4 cup butter to hot potatoes and beat until smooth. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Beat in egg yolks, then whipping cream. Add chopped green onions and mix slowly. Spoon mashed potatoes back into skins and place in shallow casserole or baking dish. Top with grated cheddar and crumbled feta cheese. Bake potatoes in skins until potatoes are golden, cheese is browned, and skins are crisp, about 10 minutes. Serves six.
2 cups milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
3 pounds baking potatoes, preferably Idaho, peeled and sliced thin
3 Oz. Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (3/4 cup)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Place a rack in the top half of the oven and preheat to 375. In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups water with the milk, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender but still slightly firm, about 8 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the potatoes to a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish; arrange the potatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle with half the cheese and the cayenne; season with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the remaining cheese. Pour the heavy cream evenly over the top. Bake the scalloped potatoes until golden and crisp on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Five-Minute Fudge Wreath
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate morsels
9 ounces (3/4 of a 12-ounce bag) butterscotch morsels
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can walnut halves
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) currants
8-inch cake pan, lightly greased with softened butter
Candied cherries, red and green, for garnish, optional
Place a heavy pot on the stove and preheat it over low heat. Add chips and milk and stir until chips are melted and milk combined. Save the empty condensed milk can. Stir in vanilla and remove fudge from heat. Add nuts and currants and stir in immediately. Cover empty condensed milk can with plastic food wrap and center it in the greased cake pan. Spoon fudge into pan around can, making sure to recenter can if it drifts. The fudge will set up almost immediately. Garnish can only be added in the first minute or 2 the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly. Decorate your wreath with "holly" made from cut candied red and green cherries. A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving. Chill covered in the refrigerator and slice fudge very thin when ready to serve, a little goes a long way.