Brined & Roasted Turkey

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Brined & Roasted Turkey

Courtesy of Andrew Long, Over Yonder


1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup kosher salt
4 cups piping hot water
4 cups ice water
2 oranges, zested & juiced
4 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme
4 apples, chopped

Make the brine by dissolving sugar and salt in hot water. Add ice water. Add orange zest and juice, bay leaves, and fresh thyme. Place rough chopped apples in a food processor and pulse, then add to brine.

1 whole turkey 
Salt & black pepper
Onion powder 
2 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
1 cup sorghum molasses or honey 
Fresh rosemary & thyme sprigs
8-10 crushed whole garlic cloves
Oil or rendered turkey fat 


To prepare the turkey, remove the leg quarters by cutting between the leg and breast, popping the thighbone from the socket and cutting between the bone and thigh. Remove legs from thighs. Run a knife through the center of the bird, between the breasts. Remove breasts from the bone, leaving wings attached. Once the breasts are removed, cut off the wings. Use caution, keeping the knife on the bone as you work. Do not cut through the breasts when removing. Remove excess skin from the carcass. Make a stock from the bones (you’ll use this when roasting the bird). Render extra skin for turkey fat if desired.

Combine turkey parts and brine in a large container. Weigh the turkey down with a plate to keep it submerged below the brine. Brine for 24 hours, then rinse with cold water before patting dry with paper towels. Return to fridge, uncovered, for two to three hours, allowing the remaining water to dry out.

Smoke the legs: Prepare a smoker or grill. (Long uses a charcoal offset smoker to maintain a temperature of 200°F to 225°F.) Season turkey legs with fresh cracked black pepper and a dash of garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Smoke the turkey for three and a half to four hours, until meat is tender and juices run clear (or internal temperature reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer). Remove legs from smoker, wrap in foil, and rest. Note: You can smoke the wings and thighs as well. Use the same internal temperature as a measurement for all cuts to ensure the meat is properly cooked. 

Roast the breasts: Preheat oven to 350°F. Make a basting liquid by mixing stock with sorghum molasses or honey, fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs, and crushed garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to an easy simmer. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil (or rendered turkey fat) to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, then carefully add the turkey breasts skin-side down. Reduce heat to medium. Cook one breast at a time if the pan is small, deglazing the pan with stock each time. Cook until skin is browned on both sides.

Once the breast is browned, add an inch or two of stock to the pan. In order for the skin to crisp, make sure the stock is not covering the skin. Brush the breast with basting liquid, and place in the oven uncovered. Roast 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your breast, basting every 10 minutes, and making sure to remove from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 155°F. Place breast on a sheet pan, baste again, and cover lightly with a foil sheet to let rest, at least 20 minutes. If covered too tightly the skin will get soggy, so the foil should resemble a tent. After resting, slice the turkey to a quarter-inch thickness and place on a platter. Drizzle with remaining basting liquid or gravy.

Long prefers a roux-less gravy because it can accommodate guests who are gluten-free. This version is rich, yet not thick and pasty, and light on the palate.

With the skillet used for browning the turkey (which should still have all the stock and yummy roasted turkey bits), add any remaining basting liquid with herbs and garlic. Bring to a simmer and remove pan from heat, adding three individual tablespoons of cold butter. Whisk rapidly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately so the butter doesn’t break the sauce. If it does break, and the sauce looks greasy, add a splash of cold water and return to a simmer until it comes together again.