This turkey, cured with Apple Cider Brine and then basted with apple cider the last hour of roasting, has a sweet and beautiful bronze-glazed finish-perfect for showcasing on a buffet table. I like to garnish the serving platter with lady apples and kumquats nestled in a bed of fresh herbs. Pair this turkey with the Chestnut Bread Stuffing with Apples, Bacon and Caramelized Onions, and your guests will be returning to the buffet in seconds.
Position an oven rack on the second-lowest level in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Have ready a large roasting pan with a roasting rack, preferably V-shaped, set in the pan.
Place the onion, garlic, apples, thyme and sage inside the chest cavity of the turkey. Truss, following the directions for an unstuffed turkey. Use a pastry brush to brush the turkey with the butter. Season the turkey with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place the turkey, breast-side down, on the roasting rack. Add the giblets, stock, and 1 cup of the apple cider to the pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F. Baste the turkey with the pan juices, and roast an additional 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven. Use oven mitts covered with aluminum foil or wads of paper towels and turn the turkey breast-side up. Baste with the pan juices then return the turkey to the oven.
Continue to roast the turkey, basting occasionally. After it has roasted for 2 hours, begin basting every 30 minutes with the remaining 1 cup of apple cider. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165 F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. When the internal temperature of the turkey is 125 F, the turkey is about 1 hour away from being done.
When the turkey is done, transfer it to a carving board or serving platter and cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to let the juices set.
To make the gravy
While the turkey is resting, make the gravy. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Discard the giblets. Skim any fat from the surface, and bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer. Using a wooden spoon, scrape and loosen any brown bits sticking to the bottom and side of the pan. Place the flour in a 1 cup measure, add a small amount of the simmering liquid, and blend until smooth. Slowly pour this into the simmering liquid and whisk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl or sauceboat to serve.
Carve the turkey. Serve, accompanied by the gravy.
Roasting times will vary depending on the size of the bird, its temperature when it went into the oven, whether or not it is stuffed, and your particular oven and the accuracy of the thermostat.
Diane Morgan, The Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books, 2001).
If you would like to purchase this book, please visit Chronicle Books.