Anne’s Amazing Butter-and-Bourbon-Glazed Turkey

For our Thanksgiving feast Dennis and Anne purchased a local, pastured bird from Dominion Valley Farm.  For fresh, non-factory-farmed birds it is a great idea to do a brine first (if your bird is frozen or deep-chilled, thaw first, pat dry, and then submerge in the brine overnight).  Commercial birds are pre-injected with saline solution and flavoring agents to keep them juicy, but a natural, pastured bird will be just as juicy (or more so) with a good soak in a brine.  Dennis and I made a simple brine by stirring two cups of coarse salt and two cups of brown sugar into a couple of quarts of water until dissolved, then added in a good shake of dried tarragon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds.  Use any spice combo that is appealing, but don’t skimp on the salt and sugar–the bird will not end up salty, but the saline solution will penetrate the cells and keep it moist as it roasts.

Place the turkey in a clean cooler and pour the brine base over the top.  Add cool water to just cover the bird.

We stowed the cooler on a cold porch overnight, but if you don’t have a cold, secure spot you can just add some ice packs to the water.  Brine for at least six hours, but preferably overnight.

To prep the turkey, remove it from the brine (discard the brine at this point) and pat it dry and truss and/or stuff as you like.   Anne poured a little broth on the bottom of the roaster before placing in the bird, to keep it from sticking (which worked well).  Mash some salt and pepper into some softened butter and rub it all over the bird.

A really good quantity of butter.

While you are working on the buttering of the bird, have a saucepan going with a scant cup of turkey stock (Anne used the neck and giblets for the stock), a good shot of bourbon, and a few more tablespoons of butter.

Cover the turkey with a clean, cotton cloth that you do not plan to use for anything else–don’t use the good napkins for this.

Using a spoon and/or a turkey baster, saturate the cloth with the bourbon/broth/butter mixture.

Roast the bird at 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes, then drop to 350 degrees for another 2-3 hours (depending on the weight of the bird), and finish the last 1-2 hours at 325 degrees.  General guidelines are to roast for 12-15 minutes per pound.  Baste with additional stock at 30 minute intervals.

When finished, this is an amazingly juicy and tender turkey that has a golden brown skin.  The drippings make a wonderful gravy, especially if you make it as Anne does, by adding heavy cream (I am having heart palpitations just thinking about that gravy…or maybe I just need to head to the cardiologist).

The white meat was juicy and flavorful and the dark meat (my favorite) was tender and moist.  A really lovely roasted bird.  If you have never tried a pastured turkey you really must–they are not only superior in flavor and texture, they also help support small farms and you can feel good about supporting sustainable and more-humane practices.  It is the only kind I will eat.  They do cost more, but it is a special occasion meal and it is absolutely worth the cost.  If you are not sure where to locate a pastured bird in your area, check out Local Harvest and type in your local zip code and see what there is in your area.
Thanks for reading,
-Angela

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One Response to Anne’s Amazing Butter-and-Bourbon-Glazed Turkey

  1. Anonymous November 28, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    Ann, your recipe for the turkey with butter, bourbon glaze will be on our bird next Thanksgiving or hey, maybe this Christmas. Angela, the photos were great. mama Jayne

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