Turkey is a festive dish, ideal for the holidays and a perfect combination with spicy beers such as our French Rye Saison. It takes a lot of preparation but the results of the long wait and hard work are more than worth it.
The biggest pitfalls when cooking a turkey is that it may cook unevenly or dry out. This can be avoided with a few simple steps that we’ll explain in the recipe below.
A turkey weighing 4-4,5 kg is enough for 6-8 persons.
- 400gr salt
- 3 liter warm water (to dissolve the salt more quickly)
- 2 liter (ice-)cold water (to quickly cool the brine)
- Optional: spices such as peppercorns or laurel
- 50 g butter
- A branch of fresh sage, leaves only
- 12 slices of pancetta or smoked bacon, as long as it’s nice and fatty
- 1 garlic bulb, peeled
- 4 medium red onions, peeled
- 2 celery sticks, finely sliced (or roughly chopped as long as it’s small pieces)
- 150g (sourdough) old bread drenched in milk or beer (100ml)
- 300 g (Half and Half) minced meat
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1 large organic or free-range egg
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 12 small fresh twigs of rosemary, plus one extra
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 large orange
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp flour
Gravy & basting
- 1 to 1,5 liter chicken or vegetable stock
- Extra herbs and spices White pepper, salt, nutmeg, rosemary.
Brining – one day in advance
To make the turkey juicy and flavour-packed, brine the turker for 24 hours in and 8% wet brine (80gr salt per 1 liter water). The turkey must be completely submerged so you’ll need 5 to 10 liters.
To make 5 liter of brine dissolve 400g salt in 3 liters of warm water. Once everything is dissolved add 2 liters of cold water to quickly cool down. Optionally add spices such as peppercorns or laurel to add more flavour.
Remove the turkey from the brine after 24 hours and have it drain in a colander.
- Peel the garlic and onion, and finely dice/chop.
- Clean the celery and finely dice/chop as well.
- Melt and heat the butter in a pan, add the sage and 6 slices of pancetta.
- Add the garlic, onion and celery. Fry until golden brown then let everything cool.
- Soak the bread in milk or in beer (like our French Rye Saison).
- Mix everything together with the minced meat and an egg until it’s evenly mixed.
- Season with nutmeg, white pepper, salte and lemon zest.
- Dry the inside and outside of the turkey with a paper towel and let it warom to room temperature.
- Very thinly slice 2-3 cloves of garlic.
- Slice the pancetta into thin strips (about 10 to 12).
- Layer a twig of rosemary and a garlic slice onto the pancetta and roll up tight.
- Cut into the turkey legs with a knife, 6 cuts each, and fill the holes with a roll of pancetta. The ends should barely stick out. This will keep the legs juicy while at the same time filling the entire house with a delicious scent.
- Cut the rest of the onion in halves, crush the garlic cloves and cut the carrots into chunks of about 2 to 3 cm.
- Place the turkey on a cutting board with the neck facing you.
- Find the edge of the skin around the neck of the turkey covering the breast and carefully pull it backwards.
- First use your fingers then your entire hand to loosen the skin off the flesh. If done carefully you should be able to loosen all the skin, leaving the sides attached. Do this slowly and try to avoid tearing the skin!
- Lift the loose skin at the neck and fill the space between the skin and the breat with stuffing. Tuck in the skin at the bottom to prevent the stuffing from falling out.
- Cut the oranges in half and stuff these into the belly of the turkey.
- Rub the entire turkey in olive oil and sprinkle with (kosher/maldon) salt and pepper. Beware: don’t use too much salt as the turkey has already been brined.
- Preheat the oven at 200°C.
- Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time: roughly 20 minutes per 500 g.
- Put 75% of the vegetables into a tray and place the turkey on top on a rack. If you don’t have a rack, simply place the turkey on top of the vegetables, this ensures the heat can reach the underside of the turkey.
- Cover the turkey in aluminum foil and place the entire tray into the preheated oven.
- Set the over to 165°C to let it slowly cool off slightly. This low heat will take long but the result is much juicier. Cook the turkey for as long as you’ve calculated.
- Baste the turkey every 20 min with stock and some butter or if there’s enough fat in the tray you can use that instead. This ensures the turkey stays juicy and flavour-packed.
- Remove the foil about 45 min before the end of the timer and allow the turkey to get a beautifully golden brown colour.
- Add the remaining 25% of the vegetables to the tray for the last 30-45 minutes. If you don’t have a rack place the rest of the vegetables around the turkey.
- Make sure the core temperature of the turkey is 70°C. No thermometer? Poke the turkey with a knife, if the juicy coming out is clear it’s done.
- Carefully lift the turkey from the tray and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Leave it to rest on a cutting board for about 20 minutes.
- Finish the vegetables by quickly frying them or turn them into a puree.
- Place the broth from the tray into a sauce pan and reduce by about 10%.
- Optionally add some of the pureed vegetables.
- Bind the gravy with flour and push it through a sieve before serving.
Place the turkey onto a cutting board, grab a sharp knife and cut it at the table. Served best with a French Rye Saison. Enjoy your meal!