So you cook and you cook and you cook and you cook, and then you eat for like 15 minutes and 10 minutes of that is spent remonstrating with your children about their abysmal table manners (though, in their defense, Papa did say they could pick up the turkey legs and tear at them a la Renaissance Faire), and then you clean and you clean and you clean and you clean.
At least we had good company at Jason & Lucy's house, though. (That's Lucy with the stuffing leftovers up there.)
The turkey was fantastic this year, as it was last year. I think we've officially nailed it:
JIM NEWMAN'S GUARANTEED FOOLPROOF ROAST TURKEY
(AND MOLLY'S FLAVORFUL GRAVY)
You will need:
- a turkey (we're assuming here, for the sake of argument, that you are using a 12-pound bird, which serves 6-8 nicely and provides adequate leftovers)
- a large bucket or other receptacle, with a lid
- kosher salt
- brown sugar
- a generous pinch of whole cloves, and another of allspice berries
- an onion
- some celery
- herb sprigs (rosemary is nice)–optional
- flour–probably about 3 Tbsp
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth/stock/liquid
- 1 more Tbsp butter (because hey, it's a party!–but if you leave this out, it's not the end of the world)
- roasting pan, rack and whisk (I like the flat-bottomed spring sort, as shown up there on the right, because it lets you get into all the little fidgety corners of the pan)
The day before you plan to serve the turkey, make the brine: boil 1 gallon water, dissolve 2 cups kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar in it. Cool to room temperature-ish. Place the turkey in the bucket/receptacle. (Make sure all giblets, necks and other miscellaneous bits of anatomy are removed BEFORE you do this.) Pour the brine over it; sprinkle in the cloves & allspice berries; add cold water until turkey is completely covered. Put lid on receptacle and refrigerate (or, if you live in the Great Frozenish Northwest as we do, you can find a cool spot outdoors to stick it… the temperature didn't go above 45 the whole time we were brining, so we figured it was safe). Leave until 3 hours before you want to eat.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove turkey from brine; pat dry inside and out. Rub inside and out with softened butter. Peel and quarter the onion; cut the celery into largeish pieces; stuff vegetables and herbs into turkey cavity.
Place rack in roasting pan. Make obligatory joke about "nice rack." Place turkey on rack, breast side down. Put turkey in oven and roast, undisturbed, unbasted, for two hours.
Reduce oven heat to 350. Remove turkey from oven; perform complicated flipping maneuver, best handled by two chefs, that results in turkey resting on rack, breast side up. Make obligatory joke about "flipping the bird." Return to oven; roast for another 30 minutes.
Take turkey out of oven; remove rack and turkey from pan and place on carving board. Tent lightly with aluminum foil. Place roasting pan on stove so that it covers two burners. Set both burners to medium-low heat. Heat up turkey drippings slightly; fish out any large onion/celery chunks.
Sprinkle flour into roasting pan. Whisk madly until drippings and flour coalesce into a pleasing roux, flour loses its pale color and the whole thing starts to smell fabulous. Whisk in white wine and broth; cook, stirring constantly, until you have gravy. At this point, you can whisk in the last bit of butter, or you can just forget about it. The gravy will taste fine without it.
Pour gravy into a gravy boat (or, as we did, a fancy porcelain creamer), straining out the dark bits if you're fussy or leaving them in if you're not.
Carve turkey; serve with gravy.
Also: just because you're married to a photographer doesn't mean you're going to get any actual, you know, family Thanksgiving photos. Just saying.