Chef Matt Shows Us How to Make the Juiciest (Cider-Brined) Turkey for Thanksgiving | CHEF ED (S1E1)

For our first installment of “Chef Ed,” Coach Matt Griseta (Executive Chef of Square Roots) tackles a few tips to impress even the toughest of family critics during the holidays.

Everybody knows that the star of Thanksgiving is the bird (a.k.a. the turkey.) Naturally, making your turkey stand out from the pack is important - for episode one, we're going back to the foundation, to make sure your turkey is done right.

GRISETA’S PRO-TIPS FOR PERFECT TURKEY COME DOWN TO TWO THINGS: THE BRINE AND THE BIRD

THE BIRD

To ensure that you get the perfect turkey each time, Griseta suggests breaking the turkey into parts instead of cooking it whole.  Doing so ensures that each cut cooks as it should, and the final result is as juicy as possible. Just make sure you don't throw away the rest of the turkey once you've butchered it up—an added bonus to this method is the opportunity to use the leftover turkey carcass for your own turkey stock (scroll to the bottom to see Chef Griseta's own recipe!)

THE BRINE

To give the turkey some unconventional flavor, Griseta makes a brine that will cover all parts of the turkey in order to preserve seasoning and enhance flavors.  Not only do the herbs and spices of the Autumntide complement the flavor profiles of a thanksgiving feast, but the brined meat will end up so much juicier as well!

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 can Ash & Elm Autumntide Cider
  • 4T Salt
  • 4T Pepper
  • 4T Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients, submerge the turkey, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.  Once the turkey has been brined, remove the individual pieces of meat from the brine, and dispose of the liquid into the sink (make sure to use a strainer to catch the apples).

THE BAKING

Line two baking sheets with baking paper, and arrange your turkey skin-side up on the pan. Pat the skin of the turkey completely dry (assuming you want crispy skin) and roast in a preheated 375°F oven until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F.  You'll want to place the separate portions of meat in the oven at separate times - the following are some approximated cook times for the respective pieces.

Wings: 1 hour

Thighs: 75 minutes

Breasts/Legs: 75-85 minutes

THE STOCK

Finally, we arrive at the best part of manually de-boning a turkey - the stock!  There's not much a good stock can't do, and it's a great way to add flavor (substitute it in place of water in recipes where you think it might work) in a subtle but powerful way.  Subtle but powerful is the name of the game here at Chef Ed!

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons water
  • Turkey carcass, chopped
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 6 celery ribs
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 tbsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 2-3 hours, occasionally skimming the fat.  Strain broth from rest of ingredients, then set aside.

* Bonus: Combine some turkey stock with a basic roux for freshly-made turkey gravy!  Your family will thank you!

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