Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey
I'm planning on trying this turkey this year for Thanksgiving. I've read all the reviews, which continually rave on the bird's moistness and flavor. My only concern is that there is not accompanying gravy recipe. Only one reviewer mentions a concern about not having pan drippings with which to make gravy, but she then notes that the juices poured out of the bird when she cut into it. So here are my questions:
Is the reviewer suggesting she used the juices for her gravy?
Has anyone made this turkey before with great success? And, if so, did you make an accompanying gravy with or without the pan juices?
Do you think this recipe will need a gravy if it turns out to be "so moist"? And if so, any blow your socks off gravy recipes that you would care to share?
I've done a modified version of Alton's recipe and I couldn't tell any difference between it and a regular brined turkey. His recipe calls for vegetable stock which I think makes no difference at all compared to regular water.
I've never had a problem making gravy from a brined turkey. I brine my turkey overnight in a bucket I bought at Home Depot. After I finish the brining process, I refill the bucket with fresh water and really rinse the turkey well.
One other thing, do not brine a Butterball turkey! It has already been infused with a solution. If you're brining, use a fresh turkey or an untreated frozen one.
Just a note on bringin safety (from a newsletter today):
"Brining is a preparation method that has become popular in the last few years for making turkey both tastier and more tender. The idea is to soak the turkey in seasoned water for four to 15 hours before roasting. Again, the danger is that it's easy to let the temperature of the brine rise above 40°F, which makes the turkey unsafe to eat. You can either brine the bird in a pan in the refrigerator or you can place the pan on the porch or in the garage if the temperature is to stay below 40°F. (Check the weather reports ahead of time for this one.) A good source on proper brining is http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/bri..."
If the turkey is brined, you won't want to make a pan gravy. It will be too salty. Here's how I make my gravy:
I make a stock from the neck, wingtips, gizzard and heart, veggies, other poultry pieces (like a couple more turkey wings. I may supplement it with good quality canned broth.
Before roasting my turkey, I trim off the fatty skin surrounding the opening to the cavities. I chop it up roughly, add some water and render the fat.
When gravy time arrives, I make a roux from the rendered fat and flour, then add the broth in the usual way. I don't brine my turkeys -- blech, in my opinion -- I roast them breast-down so mositness is never an issue -- so I may make my gravy in the roasting pan.
The use of turkey fat in the fully-cooked roux is what makes it really taste like turkey gravy. I read once that the fat is what gives any meat its distinctive flavor. Someone did some experiment where they somehow removed every shred of fat from different meats, minced them, cooked them and fed them to people. The tasters could not tell which was, say, chicken, and lamb.
Did Alton Brown's brine and roast last year. It wasn't difficult, even though the roasting time and temp is not standard. The bird fit perfectly in my Coleman cooler with wheels and I put ziplock bags of ice in it and left it outside from midnight to a comfortable 5 AM (instead of in the refrigerator. It was okay tasting. I wouldn't do it again. The spices were just too much going on. Most frozen birds in the grocery have already been injected with some brine for moistness, so I haven't had a dry bird yet.
I prefer the true taste of the turkey and pretty standard tasting turkey gravy - without the extra savory and sweet spices. The turkey was not as full of the brine flavor as much as the gravy. I had made a very creamy mushroom soup (homemade recipe from scratch) that doubled as a thin gravy and was better tasting than the sweet and savory brine gravy - in families' opinions. And, there were not as many drippings to make gravy with either.
But, I had to at least try it once.
re: kc girl
I love brining turkeys and have never had one that was too seasoned.
However, you bring up a very important point. Never, ever brine an "enhanced bird" which are the most common ones you find in the supermarket. They've already been injected with all these artificial fluids to try and keep the birds moist.
If you brine a "flavor enhanced" bird, it's sort of like double brining. Not good. Perhaps that is what happened with your turkey?
I much, much prefer getting a natural bird, with no enhancements, then brining myself. It tastes much better.
I've made similar turkeys -- basically, it's a recipe for a brined, roasted turkey. And yes, they are usually very moist and delicious. I find it's too much trouble to brine for 6 hours on Thanksgiving day -- there isn't always enough time to cook the bird. I brine overnight. What I've found is this is fine, but you have to use about half the amount of salt, or the bird is too salty. Rinse very well after brining.
As for gravy, the pan drippings will be very salty. I use it to supplement gravy I make separately. Use homemade chicken stock from the freezer, to which I add the turkey giblets, neck, etc. Let that simmer for an hour, add about 1/3 of volume of pan drippings (defatted) then mix in thickener (I use a quick roux). Don't add any salt until you check first.