Brine-Cured Roast Turkey

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup diced celery
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and diced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 star anise
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 12 to 14-pound naturally fed, free-range turkey
Wild Mushroom Stuffing (see below)
4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
Fresh rosemary branches, optional

1. In 16-quart or larger stockpot, bring 2 gallons water to a boil. Add salt and sugar, and stir until completely dissolved. Turn off heat, and add carrot, onion, celery and leek. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, red pepper, fennel seeds, star anise and thyme. Refrigerate until cold.

2. Remove giblets from turkey. Cover and refrigerate liver if using in stuffing. Discard remaining giblets or reserve for another use. Add turkey to stockpot. If necessary, weight it with a plate so that it stays below the brine's surface. Refrigerate for 72 hours, then remove from brine and allow to come to room temperature.

3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Loosely fill the turkey at both ends with stuffing, and truss as you would a chicken.

4. Place turkey in a large roasting pan, and roast until it starts to brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 350 degrees, and roast for 12 minutes more per pound, until internal temperature at the deepest part of the leg reaches 165 degrees. (Total roasting time will be about 3 hours.) Baste frequently with olive oil or butter and pan juices, using rosemary branches as a brush if desired. If the bird begins to darken too much, cover it loosely with a piece of foil. Before serving, remove turkey from oven and leave covered with foil. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving and spooning the stuffing into a serving dish.

Wild Mushroom Stuffing  (enough for a 12 to 14 pound turkey)

1 pound chanterelles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 pound smoked bacon
1 turkey or chicken liver, diced
1 day-old baguette, crust removed, to make 4 cups cubed
3 cups milk, or as needed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 lightly beaten egg, if desired.

1. Clean mushrooms, and cut in half crosswise. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter, and add shallots and 1/4 of the garlic. Sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until mushrooms are softened, about 8 minutes. Chop coarsely, then place in large mixing bowl.

2. In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add the onions and the remaining garlic. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add to the bowl of mushrooms.

3. Return skillet to medium heat, and add bacon. Cook until crisp, then remove bacon (discard or save for another purpose), saving fat. Add diced liver to pan, and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Drain well, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add to mushrooms.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread cubes and enough milk to saturate them. Drain bread, squeezing gently. Add to mushrooms, and mix gently. Add herbs and mix again. If desired, add egg to bind stuffing.

Source of recipe: Alice Waters

15 servings

Time: 4 hours and 15 minutes, plus 72 hours for brining


Brine-Cured Roast Turkey