Lynne's Fast and Crisp Roast Turkey Scented with Apple and Basil

Crisp, bronzed and fragrant, this turkey takes a mere ten minutes to the pound cutting the usual roasting time down by a third to a half. Steam from the white wine in the pan makes the skin especially good, and roasting on a rack of vegetables and apple gives you especially fine pan juices for gravy.

A ten-pound turkey can be brined in a 10-quart stockpot, but for this or larger birds you could use roasting bags that you fill with turkey and brine and then immerse in ice in a big cooler. Anticipate brining an hour for each pound of turkey, and if you're cooking a Kosher turkey, you'll want to skip the brine altogether and cut straight to the roast.

The Turkey: You want a bird that hasn't been tampered with—no injections of preservatives, no preseasoning. Ideally, an organic bird and/or a heritage turkey will give you exceptional flavor. And have it fully defrosted before brining. All this will pay you back ten-fold at the table.

Pan gravy from Foolproof Gravy Guide. Available here


Ingredients

Brine:
  • 1 cup Diamond kosher salt, or 1-1/4 cups Morton's kosher salt
  • 1/3 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup medium-hot pure ground chile (Ancho is good here)
  • Cloves separated from large head garlic with skins on
  • 2 light-packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 large Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Ambrosia, or Liberty apples, cored (not peeled) and coarsely chopped
  • 1 10- to 11-pound turkey (see above)
  • About 6 quarts cold water
  • 10 quart stock pot


Roasting the Turkey:

  • 3 large stalks celery, halved crosswise
  • 3 large plump carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 3 medium to large onions, sliced into 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick rounds
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons good tasting extra-virgin olive oil, or 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • l bottle dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, or Alberetto)


Instructions

1. Brine the turkey a day ahead. Remove giblets and neck and save them for making the gravy broth. In a 10-quart stockpot or heavy plastic roasting bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in a little cold water. Add the chile powder.

2. Combine all the garlic, 3/4 of the basil, and 3 of the apples in a food processor. Fine chop and add to the brine. Slip in the turkey. Add enough cold water to submerge the bird. Refrigerate or bury in ice in a cooler. Brine 10 hours.

3. To cook, remove center rack from the oven and set the other one as low as possible. Preheat to 450°F. Have a large shallow roasting pan (2 inches deep is ideal, too deep and the turkey steams instead of roasts). Cluster together the celery, carrot, and onion so they become a sturdy rack to keep the turkey from touching the pan. Scatter with half the remaining apple, and enough wine to film the pan with 1/2 inch of liquid.

4. Set the turkey on the vegetables breast down and tuck the remaining apple and basil into the cavity. Rub all over with the olive oil or butter and dust with fresh ground black pepper.

5. Roast 10 minutes to the pound (usually a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes), or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165°F to 170°F. After the first hour, remove pan from oven and use two potholders to carefully turn turkey breast side up. Every 30 minutes or so check pan juices for burning. Pour more wine (about 2/3 cup) over the bird and baste with pan juices. Cover lightly with foil if it threatens to burn.

6. Once bird is done, remove it to a platter and let stand in a warm place 15 minutes. This is essential for it to finish cooking, and for a juicy, optimum turkey. Use the pan juices to make gravy following our Foolproof Gravy Guide. I like to cut up some of the pan vegetables and add them to the gravy along with the apple that's practically melted into the pan juices The rest of the vegetables are for tomorrow's turkey soup.

Copyright 2006 Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Tags: 
basil
Prep time: 
20 minutes, plus brining time
Cook time: 
About 2 hours
Total time: 
Almost 2 1/2 hours
Yield: 
Serves 8 to 9
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