Friday, November 26, 2010

MARTON The Turkey...Ergo, the Perfect/Good Eats Turkey

We had a really great Thanksgiving this year with my sister Elaine, her main man Dan, my parents and, of course, our poochie girl, Hana. I was so0000 glad Elaine came a day early to help me prep and cook all the food. Last Thanksgiving, EE made a fab brined turkey that was super juicy, so I thought we'd use her recipe again this year. Also, we made her version of an excellent sausage-cranberry cornbread stuffing. I've only made stuffing a couple times before and they were just kind of "meh." EE's rendition, however, totally rocks!

11/25/10 Mom & Dad.

11/25/10 Gil (pouring the bubbly), Dan, and EE (narrating God knows what on her Flip Video)

So here's the lowdown:


The Marton*  Turkey
Giblet Gravy
Cranberry-Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Cranberry Sauce 
Pumpkin Mousse Cake
Wilson Creek Almond Champagne
Assorted Wines
Mini Corncakes


I will be posting most of the recipes from our menu, except for the green bean casserole, which is my mom's dish, and the mini corncakes, which were EE's contribution. As far as cranberry sauce goes, we are unanimously united in our preference for the canned variety. Blame it on a twisted childhood idiosyncrasy, but the jellied texture and rings of canned cranberry sauce are, for us, sacrosanct to the Thanksgiving tradition.

I'm starting with our soon-to-be, signature, piece de resistance, "MARTON Turkey." So, WTF (surely), you ask, IS a MARTON's Turkey? Well, basically it's a combo of Martha Stewart's recipe for the "Perfect Roast Turkey" and Alton Brown's classic recipe for the "Good Eats Roast Turkey." Both call for brining the turkey, but our version incorporates the best of the two. 

Btw, Dan, the Dan Bing genius was the one who came up with this clever appellation: MARTHA+ALTON = MARTON. Heh...


1 cup kosher salt
1/2 (heaping) cup light brown sugar
1 gallon (20 cups) water
2 cups white wine (optional)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5 juniper berries
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. chicken base

10 cups water
10 cups ice cubes

20 lb. Butterball Turkey
1/2 stick butter, softened

1 red apple, quartered & seeded
1/2 onion. sliced
1 stick cinnamon

1 cup water
1 sprig fresh Rosemary
6 sage leaves

Basting Liquid:
1 1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups white wine

1/2 cup oil from the turkey drippings
1 cup flour
4-5 cups water
Turkey drippings (1-2 cups, or whatever amount you can eke out from the pan)
1 1/2 cups water + 1 pkg of gravy mix
black pepper, to taste

1. If bird is frozen, thaw in frig for about 4 days at 38F (rule of thumb is 24 hours of thawing for each 5 pounds of bird). 

2. Combine brine ingredients in a large stockpot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let cool.

3. Add 10 cups water and 10 cups ice cubes to cooled brine. 

4. Place thawed turkey (make sure to remove the giblets & neck inside the cavity) breast side down into roasting bag. Pour in brine. Tie bag with a twisty tie, place in a large stock pot, and refrigerate 8-10 hours max. 

5. Remove turkey from brining liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Let the turkey "air dry" for 1 hour.

6. Place turkey on rack in a roasting pan and slather surface liberally with 1/2 stick softened, unsalted butter. Sprinkle the bird liberally with black pepper.

7. In the meantime, preheat oven to 425F. Place quartered red apple, sliced 1/2 onion, 1 stick cinnamon, and 1 cup water in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Loosely place these aromatics in the turkey's cavity & neck, along with the sprig of rosemary and 6 leaves of sage. 

8. Tuck wings under the turkey and secure wings & other areas, as needed, with turkey lacers and twine.

9. For basting liquid, microwave 1 1/2 cups white wine & 1 1/2 sticks butter in bowl about 1-2 minutes until butter is melted. Soak a large square of cheesecloth in this mixture (large enough to cover the breast and sides of the turkey). 

10. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Remove the cheesecloth from butter-wine mixture, squeeze out excess liquid, and place cheesecloth over the turkey breast. Brush cheesecloth with basting liquid. Pour 2 cups water into the roasting pan to prevent burning. Roast turkey 30 minutes. 

11. Reduce oven temp. to 350F and brush cheesecloth with more basting liquid. From here on out, continue roasting turkey and basting cheesecloth every 30 minutes for another 2 1/2 hours. If at any time the water evaporates from the bottom of the pan, add more (in 2 cup increments). The drippings from the bird will form an important component of the giblet gravy.

12. After 2 1/2 hours, remove cheesecloth and rotate the pan. Baste turkey again. Continue roasting for another hour (and basting every 30 minutes) until internal temperature of turkey reaches 180F. Turkey is fickle, so sometimes a 20-pounder may take more than 4 hours. The key is to watch the internal temperature: 180F is the goal. If at any time during the last stretch of roasting the turkey looks like it's over-browning, just cover the affected parts with aluminum foil. When turkey is done, remove from oven and let rest at least 30 minutes.

13. After the resting period, you can slice up MARTON as you see fit.

14. For the gravy: Pour off all of the turkey drippings from the roasting pan into a measuring cup or gravy separator. Pour off/remove the fat/oil into a separate container. Place the turkey roasting pan over burners on the stovetop on medium heat, and 1/2 cup of the reserved turkey fat/oil, and whisk in 1 cup of flour. Stir the roux constantly with a whisk for about 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Add the reserved turkey drippings and stir well. Add 4-5 cups of water and bring to a boil. In a bowl or measuring cup, combine gravy mix with 1 1/2 cups of cold tap water. Pour into the turkey gravy, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until thickened. Taste and season with salt (though probably not necessary) and black pepper. 

Dice 4 carrots and 1 onion.

Light brown sugar, Kosher salt, Juniper Berries, Black Peppercorns.

2 stalks sliced celery, 4 diced carrots, 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves garlic (smashed).

For brining liquid, add: 1 gallon water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 (heaping) cup light brown sugar, 1 tbsp. chicken base, 5 juniper berries, 1 tbsp. black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat. 

20-lb. Butterball Turkey.

When brine is cooled, add 10 cups water and 10 cups of ice.

Place turkey in large turkey roasting bag, breast side down. Add brine. 

Tie bag at top and place in a large pot.

Place brining turkey in the frig. Brine for 8-10 hours (not more).

EE, at around 5:15am on Thanksgiving day. What a trooper! Here, removing MARTON turkey from the brine and drying it off with paper towels (all without benefit of caffeine or an otherwise fortified beverage).

Tuscan Blue Rosemary and Berggarten Sage, fresh from the garden. EE helped me to harvest them outside at the crack of dawn in very dark, windy and cold conditions. The dangers one navigates for the sake of perfect turkey!

 Let the brined turkey air dry for 1 hour before roasting. 

Aromatics: Combine 1 quartered red apple, 1/2 sliced onion, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 cup water in bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Stuffing the aromatics into where it counts.

Basting liquid: 1 1/2 sticks butter (softened) & 1 1/2 cups white wine. Keep this mixture in the microwave until ready to use, as it congeals very quickly at room temp.

Slather 1/2 stick of softened butter on the turkey. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper. 

Place wine-butter soaked cheesecloth over the turkey breast & sides (do not cover the legs). 

Basting the turkey, AGAIN!

Lookin' good! Remember to keep adding water to the roasting pan throughout if at any time it dries out. 

After a total of 3 hours of roasting, remove the cheesecloth from the turkey breast and rotate the pan. Continue basting the turkey at 30 minute intervals until the internal temp. reaches 180F.

A perfect golden brown. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Gil carving the turkey, while Hana looks on wistfully and droolfully.

And Thanksgiving luncheon is served!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for savingthis AR- cause I'm doing this again this year for you guys!!