Best! Bourbon and Brown Sugar Turkey

04cplatebzloAnd so, we again find ourselves on the precipice of Thanksgiving.

For many of us in the USA, this is THE day. You do NOT mess around with the food. Great aunt Gertrude may very well make the worst sweet potato casserole in ANY hemisphere, but, you will have that vile, loathed casserole on the table, or it will simply not be Thanksgiving.

With that in mind, and all apologies to great aunt Gertrude, I have a suggestion to make…

01abourbonciderbzloThis turkey is moist, flavorful, and wicked delicious.

The best part?

It is also wicked simple to put together!

The Bird:
•Turkey – this year I have ordered an 18 lb Amish bird from my market
•4 cups apple juice – I used cider, which, interestingly enough in North America, is really just unfiltered apple juice (who knew?)
•1 cup bourbon
•1/2 cup, packed, brown sugar

01csoakcheeseclothbzloThe Aromatics:
•4 ribs of celery
•4 carrots
•3 or 4 apples, quartered
•2 onions, quartered

The gravy:
•Turkey giblets (trust me, you’ll never know they’re there)
•Turkey neck

First things first; dissolve the brown sugar in the bourbon and cider and soak the cheesecloth in the mixture.

02ccheeseclothwrapbzloRemove the giblets and the neck from the turkey (stash ’em in the fridge for the gravy), rinse the bird in cold water, drain well, and pat dry.

Wring the soaked cheesecloth out, the arrange over the turkey in a large pan.

Pour the bourbon and cider mixture over all, cover, and stash in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, basting with marinade, when you think to do it.

When ready to roast, heat oven to 325°.

02aveggiesbzloArrange your aromatics in the bottom of a roasting pan – I actually have a spare roasting oven that works a treat, and saves oven space for other turkey day must haves.

Pull off and discard the cheesecloth, and remove the turkey from the marinade, but save the marinade.

Season the turkey cavity with salt, rubbing it in. Then, season the surface of the turkey with salt and pepper, rubbing this into the skin as well.

02eturkeyroastedbzloArrange the turkey on top of the aromatics and pour about four cups of the reserved marinade over all.

Bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, basting ever 30 minutes or so, until a properly inserted meat thermometer registers 165°, or a button pops up, or whatever method you prefer for making sure your bird is well and truly done.

04agravybzloRemove from the oven (or roaster pan) and let rest for 30 minutes.

Now, let us make teh gravy.

Strain enough of the turkey cooking liquid into a pan to cover the reserved turkey neck and giblets.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the giblets are well and truly cooked.

04bturkeyplatterbzloRemove the neck, add some of the aromatics to the giblets in the pan, and give a good whiz with an immersion blender – let’s cut to the chase here: you NEED one of these, we scored a nice deal on a Cuisinart last summer for about $25 – but be warned, stuff will spatter; so use a tall pan. Taste the nicely thickened – but still safely gluten-free – gravy and correct the seasoning – I thought a bit of salt and pepper perfect.

Carve your bird, arrange on a platter, and serve with the gravy and the rest of your feast day goodies (even great aunt Gert’s hated sweet potatoes).

YUM, people.

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