Chef Mitchell Altholz from Highlawn Pavilion passed along his recipe below for brining and cooking a turkey. He chose this recipe because it's one simple thing the home cook can do to really improve the taste and quality of the central part of most Thanksgiving dinners. Instead of worrying about creating intricate gravies and sides that compensate for what could be a bland or dry dish, this method helps the turkey itself to be the star of the meal.
As you may know, brining involves soaking a turkey in a salty solution for an extended period of time, long enough for the salt to enter the flesh of the turkey and alter the way the meat cooks. If done correctly, it doesn't breakdown the flesh or leave it salty, it instead results in a more moist and juicy turkey. With the addition of aromatics to the brine, there is also an infusion of subtle flavors that add to the overall taste of the turkey.
Highlawn Pavilion Executive Chef Mitchell Altholz's Turkey Brining Recipe
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary;;
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water bring to a boil
add all above ingredients let sit ½ hour then cool over night in the fridge
Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.
Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.
Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat. Place the roasting pan on two stovetop burners over medium heat. Add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 3 cups of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved neck meat and giblets to the pan and adjust seasoning, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.
If brining isn't in your wheelhouse, and you don't feel like cooking either, both Highlawn Pavilion and The Manor are offering outstanding Thanksgiving options for dining out.
Highlawn will be offering a four-course Thanksgiving dinner. I have attached the full Thanksgiving menu (there is also a link to it below).
Four-Course Prix Fixe Thanksgiving Dinner
Choose from a specially-prepared selection of menu items, crafted by Executive Chef Mitchell Althoz, including traditional Thanksgiving fare and exquisitely satisfying desserts.
$59.00 per person (plus 20% gratuity & 7% sales tax)
$29.50 Children's Menu (Available upon request for ages 4-12)
To make a reservation please call Highlawn Pavilion at 973-731-3463.
A la Carte
A complete four-course holiday menu
$69.95 per person (plus tax & gratuity)
$29.95 Children's dinner available upon request for ages 3 to 12
The Manor's Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet features an emphasis on traditional holiday foods including carved roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, turkey gravy, and cranberry sauce. Also select from prime rib of beef, roast leg of lamb, and baked ham, along with a wide variety of offerings in keeping with the diversity and quality of the year-round Sunday Family Dinner Buffet.
$53.95 per person (plus tax & gratuity)
$19.95 Children agaes 3 to 12
For Thanksgiving reservations at The Manor, please call 973-731-2360
Thanksgiving A la Carte Menu: http://www.themanorrestaurant.com/assets/templates/manor/pdf/holiday-menus/Manor_Thanksgiving_2013_Dinner_Menu.pdf