Sunday, December 4, 2016

Upside Down Roast Turkey on Ciabatta Bread (a la Martha Stewart's Recipe)

My sister, Elaine, made a fabulously tender and moist turkey this Thanksgiving (as she always does), but instead of just brining then covering the turkey breast with a wine-butter infused cheesecloth, she also incorporated a Martha Stewart technique of roasting the turkey on a layer of ciabatta bread, first breast side down at 425F for 45 minutes, then breast side up at 350F for the rest of the cooking time. Taking that tip, here's my version, which I hope does Elaine's justice! Brining is key, by the way, because it almost always guarantees you'll nevah evah have dry and bland turkey meat again!

12-14 lb. turkey


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 or 2 tsp. allspice berries
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. chicken or vegetable base

10 cups water

10 cups ice cubes

For the Turkey:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 onion, quartered
1 sprig fresh Rosemary

1 lb. loaf of Ciabatta bread (ok to use smaller loaves), sliced in half horizontally

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

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



1/2 cup oil from the turkey drippings
1 cup flour
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

1. If bird is frozen, thaw in frig for 2-3 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/brining bag, 5 gallon bucket, or very large stock pot. Pour in brine. If using a roasting or brining bag, tie it with a twisty tie, place in a large stock pot, and refrigerate 8-10 hours max.

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

6. Preheat oven to 425F, with rack on the lower third of the oven. 

7. Slather the surface and inside of the turkey liberally with 2 tbsp. softened, unsalted butter. Sprinkle the bird liberally with black pepper.

8. Place a v-rack onto a roasting pan and line it with a layer of cheesecloth. Place the halved ciabatta bread in a single layer over the cheesecloth (the cheesecloth will keep the bread from dissolving into the drippings below while the turkey is roasting, which happened when I first made this recipe). 

9. Place the buttered turkey, breast side down, on top of the ciabatta bread. Stuff the cavity with the quartered onion and sprig of rosemary. Tuck the wings under and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Roast at 425F for 45 minutes. 

10. In the meantime, combine 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of white wine in a mi
crowave proof bowl; microwave 1 minute or until the butter has melted; set aside.

11. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully flip the turkey over (a set of heat-proof Ov-Gloves works well for this maneuver). Soak a 6" x 6" triple-layered square of cheesecloth in the butter-wine mixture, squeeze slightly to remove a little of the excess liquid, and cover it over the turkey breast. 

12. Reduce the heat to 350F and return the turkey back to the oven. Pour 2 cups of unsalted chicken broth into the roasting pan. Roast the turkey for another 2 hours, basting or brushing the cheesecloth with the butter-wine mixture every 3o minutes or so.

13. When the internal temperature of the turkey has reached about 155F (insert thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh), remove the cheesecloth and continue roasting until it reaches 165F. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before carving. 

14. FOR THE GRAVY: Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a gravy separator. Pour 1/2 cup of the oil from the turkey drippings (yes, this is not one for dieters) into a skillet or saucepan. Heat over medium heat and add 1 cup of flour; stir constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk for about 30 seconds to cook out the raw flour taste. Add the remaining turkey drippings and another 1 1/2 cups of water plus a packet of turkey gravy mix. Stir or whisk well to combine; bring to a boil and simmer until the gravy has thickened. 

15. Serve the turkey with your fav stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. 

Make the brine.

Brine the turkey for 8-10 hours in the refrigerator before roasting.

Ciabattta bread.

Rinse the brined turkey inside and out.

Pat dry with paper towels and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

This picture was of the ciabatta slices over the roasting rack the first time I made this recipe. Next time around, I would line the rack with cheesecloth and place the bread slices on top to prevent them from falling through during roasting.

Place the buttered and peppered turkey, breast side down, on the bread slices and roast at 425F for 45 minutes. 

45 minutes later, the bottom is nicely browned.

Flip the turkey over carefully to breast side up.

Place a triple-layered 6"x6" piece of cheesecloth soaked in the butter-wine mixture over the turkey breast and return to the oven. Lower heat to 350F.

Pour 2 cups of unsalted chicken broth into the roasting pan. 

Baste or brush the cheesecloth every 30 minutes or so to keep the breast moist.

Roast the turkey for another 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155F. Remove the cheesecloth (to let the skin brown) and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 
30 minutes and up to an hour.

Slice the turkey and serve.

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