Best Way Brine, Air-Chilled Turkey
(Click Here to View This Recipe in a PDF Format)
This recipe has been a family-favorite way of preparing our Thanksgiving turkey ever since we discovered it about 7 years ago. Variations have been added or taken away each year, but the basic formula remains the same. It does take some preparation, but it’s simple and results in a moist, flavorful, savory, delicious bird.
A little history of the origins of the recipe
In 2005 the San Francisco Chronicle food staff roasted nearly 40 turkeys in their test kitchen
and found the brine, air-chilled turkey to be the best. Every year since, they have retested the recipe, and found it to be the best. A few years ago they tweaked the recipe and found it works best when including an air-chilled method.
Air chilling may take up a little bit of space in the refrigerator, and an extra day, but results in
concentrated flavor and a juicy bird.
Best Way Brine, Air-Chilled Turkey
Serves 6-8, with leftovers
1 turkey, about 12 pounds
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups kosher salt
2 1/2 gallons cold water
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch of thyme
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed (see Note below)
2 tablespoons softened butter + butter for basting
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock + more as needed
Instructions: Remove giblet bag from turkey, along with any extra internal fat and pin
feathers. Rinse well under cold tap water. Combine sugar, salt and 3 to 4 quarts water in a
large bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add remaining brine ingredients except for the
remaining gallons of water.
Double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags (not made of recycled materials), then put
them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey and several bags of ice. Place
turkey in bags, pour in brine and remaining 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 gallons water – there should be
enough liquid to completely cover the bird. Press out air in bags; tightly close each bag
separately. Keep turkey cold by piling bags of ice over and around the closed bags which will
also help keep the the turkey submerged. Brine for 12-24 hours.
Alternate method: Place turkey and brine in a large pot. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours. If
turkey floats to top, weight it down with a plate and cans to keep it submerged in brine.
Air-Chilling: (just a quick note here that the brined turkey is just fine after brining, but
this sounds like an interesting twist.)
After brining, rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey in a roasting
pan or rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, 12 to 24 hours. Turn the bird over
halfway through drying time.
Roasting: Preheat oven to 400°. Spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over skin. Sprinkle
pepper over skin and in cavity. Tuck wing tips under, loosely truss legs and place turkey on
a V-shapped rack in a roasting pan. Tent breast with foil.
Put turkey in oven. To ensure that the bird cooks evenly, rotate roasting pan 180° every
30 minutes. Roast for about 1 hour, remove foil and baste turkey with 1/2 cup stock. Return
to oven and roast, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes, using more stock as needed.
Start checking internal temperature after about 1 hour by inserting an instant-read
thermometer in the inner meatiest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. If legs or breast
begin to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Roast until internal thigh temperature reaches
165°. Total roasting time shold be about 2 to 2 3/4 hours. Let bird rest for at least 20-30
minutes before carving.
(Note: Juniper berries can be found in the spice section of some supermarkets and specialty
Click here for Suggested Wine Pairings
Wishing you and your family a
Very Happy Thanksgiving
A few years ago I met with Chef John Toulze, who showed us how to prepare Oven-Roasted Game Hen.
Pairing Oven-Roasted Game Hen with Gamba Old Vine Zinfandel
with Chef John Toulze of ESTATE Restaurant
Pairing Game Hen Over Polenta With Greens and Salsa Verde, with Chef John Toulze from ESTATE and The Girl & The Fig Restaurants in Sonoma, CA. It’s a dish you would not normally think of pairing with a Gamba Old Vine Zinfandel, but it works very well, and it’s easy to prepare.
Food and Wine Pairing – Part 1 – with Chef John Toulze
Food and Wine Pairing – Part 2 – with Chef John Toulze
Two New Recipes To Pair With Sauvignon Blancs
Atlantic Salmon Sashimi with Spring Flavors Recipe
by Chef Christopher Kostow The Restaurant at Meadowood
For 2 portions
10 slices Cured Atlantic Salmon (cure recipe follows)
1L Smoked Sesame Gelee (recipe follows)
2ea Asparagus Stalks, tops removed and reserved, sliced
2ea Sesame tuile(recipe follows)
.25oz Smoked Char roe
6ea Fresh radish slices
6ea Radish tops
TT Smoked Sesame Seeds
.25oz Asparagus/lettuce puree(recipe follows)
Spring onion Chiffonade to garnish
Lemon zest to garnish
To cure the salmon
2tbs white soy sauce
Place the Salmon in the curing mix for 1:15 minutes under refrigeration. Once salmon is cured, rinse and slice, then lay out on plastic wrap. Lay blanched asparagus spear on the inside of the salmon. Roulade in plastic wrap and chill. Once it has had time to set then dip in the sesame gelee 5 times.
3 1/3c smoked sesame seeds
20 sheets gelatin, bloomed
TT white soy
Steep seeds in water for 2 hours, or until flavorful and melt in gelatin. Season.
½ c sesame paste
Mix in a kitchen aid and spread on Teflon coated surface (or silpat), bake at 350 until golden, cut into strips while still hot.
1 1/3c green asparagus
3 ½ c cream
1 tsp. Butter
TT salt, lemon
Blanch lettuce and asparagus, blend in hot cream and butter, chill, season.
To assemble, lay Asparagus/lettuce puree on plate, and position the salmon roulade on top. Lay the tuile over the top of that and place caviar, sliced asparagus, shaved radish and tops, then finish with seeds, lemon zest, onion chiffonade and serve.
Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad
with Chilled Shrimp, Mint and Green Goddess
Recipe from Chef Emily Luchetti of Farallon and Waterbar Restaurants to pair with Sauvignon Blanc.
2-3 heads baby iceberg lettuce
8 ounces small shrimp (we use Laughing Bird)
tarragon stems (Use stems from tarragon below)
one roughly chopped orange.
2 bay leaves
Rinse the shrimp.
Bring 2 qts water to a full boil. Add salt to make it taste like the ocean.
Add bay leaves, tarragon stems and one orange.
When water comes to a boil add shrimp and cook until 90% done. (Laughing Bird Shrimp will take about 1 minute.) (they will finish cooking as they cool.)
Drain and refrigerate on a sheet pan. Once cool put in a container until ready to serve.
Green Goddess Dressing
1 each avocado
1 bunch mint
1 bunch basil
2 bunches tarragon
½ bunch Italian parsley
1 clove garlic
2 salted anchovies
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
s and p
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Blanch mint, basil and tarragon in boiling salted water for 10 seconds.
Immediately put in an ice bath.
Puree with avocado, parsley and approximately 3 tablespoons water or until smooth.
With a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and the anchovies to a paste.
Mix the herb puree together with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic and anchovies.
Whisk in the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, stir in the champagne vinegar. (If you do this ahead of time the dressing won’t stay a bright green color.)
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup Canola oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk of spring garlic, micro planed(or one clove regular garlic)
s and p
½ bunch mint, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
Whisk together the vinegar and oils with the garlic. Season with salt.
Reserve herbs on side. Do not put in dressing or they will oxidize and turn black.
Cut baby iceberg lettuce in wedges, 6 per head. Remove the stem.
Spoon some Green Goddess Dressing on each of 4 plates.
Place 3 wedges of lettuce on top of dressing.
Marinate shrimp with lemon vinaigrette adding the herbs. Spoon shrimp over the wedges of lettuce. Drizzle some excess dressing on the lettuce and around the Goddess.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin in Cabernet Sauce
While looking for grilling ideas for this coming Father’s Day, I ran across this recipe at What’s Cooking America that looked pretty interesting. Below is a list of Cabernets that would pair nicely with this dish.
6 beef Filet Mignons or T-bone steaks (approximately 7 ounces each), trimmed
2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 sprigs rosemary, bruised
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
Cabernet Sauce (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons chive batons, cut 1-inch in length (for garnish)
In a bowl or large resealable plastic bag, combine balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and peppercorns; place steaks in the plastic bag or covered dish. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare Cabernet Sauce; set aside.
Remove steaks from refrigeration 1 hour before cooking and wipe excess marinade off the steaks. When you are ready to grill, preheat barbecue grill.
Place steaks onto hot grill and grill to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:
Rare – 120°F
Medium Rare – 125°F
Medium – 130°F
What constitutes rare and medium-rare cooked meat? To satisfy government home economists, the Beef Council says rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Well, for me that leaves the meat dry and more well done than I prefer. So rare for me begins at 120 degrees and starts to become medium rare at 125 or 130 degrees. To cook your meat properly, get yourself a good instant-read digital meat thermometer.
When the steaks are crusty-charred and done to your liking, remove from the grill and let sit 15 minutes before serving (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the grill). Pour any juices from the steaks into the prepared Cabernet Sauce; spoon the sauce over and around the steaks on individual serving plates. Sprinkle with chive batons and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
1 cup onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup carrot, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup celery, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup good-quality Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups red wine (preferably Cabernet)
1 1/2 quarts veal stock or chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil over medium heat until well browned. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the vinegars and wine, bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Add the veal or chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer, skimming occasionally, until reduced by two-thirds. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Cool and refrigerate if not using immediately.
If refrigerated, return the sauce to the heat and simmer until it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.
Tip: If you’re wondering if it’s OK to use a cheap wine in your cooking, a good rule of thumb is don’t use a wine in your cooking that you wouldn’t drink.
TWO RECIPES TO MATCH WITH CAPTURE SAUVIGNON BLANCS
Recipes by May-Britt Malbec, Winemaker
Match this luxurious mushroom dish with one of our Pinot Noir recommendations
PASTA WITH WILD MUSHROOMS
2 Tbs. butter
6 ounces of chanterelles, porcinis and oyster mushrooms cut into smaller pieces
1 minced shallot
A splash of white wine
1 – 1 ½ cup of heavy cream
Sprigs of chervil
Salt and pepper from the grinder
Melt the butter in a pan, when foaming add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes until mushrooms are golden brown, add the minced shallot and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add about ½ cup of white wine and reduce for a couple of minutes, then add the cream and reduce until it thickens slightly. Serve on any type of pasta and decorate with sprigs of chervil.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
1 butternut squash
Split the butternut in half, remove the seeds and place meat side down in a baking dish.
Bake in the oven at 350° F for about 45 – 60 minutes. Increase the temperature to 450° F.
Let the butternut cool and then remove the peel, cut it into smaller pieces, return to baking dish and roast in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes allowing the butternut to brown, but not to get burned.
1-2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
3 – 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp salt
Pepper from the grinder
Melt the butter in a pan, when foaming add the minced shallots, reduce the heat, allowing the shallots to become translucent, 8 – 10 minutes.
Add the squash and the broth. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Use a hand blender to puree it all. Taste with salt and pepper.
½ cup of cream
Add the cream at the end if you wish to get a richer soup.
Decorate with chopped sage.
PORK LOIN IN THE STYLE OF PORCHETTA WITH FENNEL
Recipe by MARIO BATALI
Mario Batali’s recipe of the dish he prepared. Match this dish with one of these Zinfandels or Rhone varietal wines.
One 4 pound boneless PORK LOIN ROAST, butterflied (have the butcher do this)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds reserved and chopped, bulb thinly sliced
2 pounds ground pork shoulder
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 red onions, cut in half
1 lemon, halved
1. Lay the pork loin out flat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. In a 10 inch saute’ pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the sliced onion and fennel and saute’ until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the ground pork, fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic, and 2 tablespoons pepper, and cook, stirring occassionally, until the pork is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 425 F
4. Add all but one tablespoon of the fennel fronds, the bread crumbs, and eggs to the pork mixture and mix gently. Spread the mixture over the pork loin. Roll it up, starting from a long side, like a jelly roll, and tie with butcher’s twine. Place the red onions in a a roasting pan and set the pork on top. Roast for 1 hr. and 15 minutes, until internal temperature is 135 F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Slice the pork into 1-inch thick pieces. Serve drizzled with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, garnished with the reserved fennel fronds. and with the onions on the side.
Serves 6 to 8