Roast brined turkey with gravy and cranberry relish
The main reason for brining a turkey is to produce a more juicy, moist result. Most roast turkeys I have come across— and at times endured— have been dry and tough. Roast turkey that is not brined may lose up to 30 per cent moisture, but a brined turkey will only lose as little as 15 percent. Brining means being a bit more organised, but it is super-easy to do and the results are 100 percent rewarding. Begin making the brine two days before, one day to brine and one day to “dry out’’ the turkey. If you are short on time you can omit the drying stage. Other tips I have learned over the years are be careful not to add any extra seasoning to the turkey before roasting and always remember to allow resting time of at least 20 minutes; the meat will relax and the end result with be a supremely juicy, tender experience.
For the brine
|1 cup||Rock salt|
|1||Garlic, head, cut in half|
|1||Onion, peeled and quartered|
For the turkey
|3½ kgs||Turkey, whole|
|1||Carrot, peeled and quartered lengthwise|
|1||Onion, peeled and thickly sliced|
|1 stick||Celery, cut in half|
|50 g||Butter, melted|
|500 ml||Chicken stock|
|1 cup||Wine, dry white|
Roast brined turkey
- In a large pot bring to the boil all the brine ingredients, remove from heat, allow to cool then pour into a large clean bucket. Place brine in fridge and chill.
- Remove the turkey from its packet, gently wash under cold water, pat dry with paper towels.
- To truss the turkey fold the wing tips backwards so they tuck in under themselves - this will prevent them from popping out. Take a 1.2m length of string. In the middle tie a knot around the parson’s nose. Wrap each end of the string around the top of a drumstick and pull the ends tight so the drumstick bones meet tightly close to the parson’s nose; this keeps the top of the turkey looking neat. Lay each end of string down between the breast and the thigh, pull tight, then turn the turkey over and tie the two ends together — this will be between the wings. Pull tight and make a double knot.
- Place the trussed turkey into the brine in the fridge, make sure it is completely covered in brine; use a plate to help weigh it down. Allow to brine overnight (18-24 hours). Remove the turkey from the brine, gently rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels then place on a baking rack over a drip tray and put back in the fridge overnight (12-24 hours).
- Remove turkey from fridge one hour before cooking. Heat the oven to 180C. Place carrot, onion and celery on the base of a roasting dish, sit the turkey on top, then brush with melted butter. Do not season the turkey. Add wine and water. Loosely cover the entire roasting dish with foil. Place in oven with logs of salted cashew and apple stuffing wrapped in foil and roast, initially for 1 hour.
- Remove the foil and test stuffing is cooked by inserting a skewer or small knife, hold it in for 5 seconds, it should be hot to touch, keep it in a warm place until serving.
- Using a pastry brush baste the turkey breast, legs and thighs with the pan juices. Place back in the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes. Baste the turkey with the pan juices every 10 minutes to glaze.
- To test if the turkey is done insert a skewer, a small sharp knife or a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, the juices should run clear, and the thermometer should read 80C. Place on a warm plate and set in a warm place, loosely covered with foil for 20 minutes before carving.
- Remove the vegetables from the roasting dish and place over a medium heat, sprinkle in 3 Tbsp of flour and use a whisk to form a smooth paste.
- Gradually add in hot chicken stock, whisking after each addition, check seasoning and adjust if necessary, strain gravy through a fine sieve, keep warm until serving.
- Cut orange into eighths and place in food processor with cranberries and sugar.
- Pulse until a thick well-blended relish is formed.