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How to Cook The Perfect Turkey

Waldy Malouf, chef-owner of Beacon, gives up his secrets for transforming the classic (read: dry) big bird into a bona fide butterball. Start with a specimen from a good (free-range) home, coddle it with a salty bath, and massage it with herbed butter. Just don't expect leftovers.


Brined Herb-Roasted Turkey


1 12-pound turkey (preferably organic and free-range)


1 cup sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
3 tablespoons cracked black pepper

Turkey stock:

Turkey giblets, neck, and other trimmings
1 onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken stock

Herb butter (make day of roasting):

8 tablespoons (one stick) softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

Roasting the turkey:

1 onion, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 to 5 cups turkey stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour

Brine: One to two days before serving, place 1 gallon of water in a large stock pot with the sugar, salt, sage, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and chill.

Place the turkey in a deep casserole or roasting pan that is large enough to allow most (preferably all) of the turkey to be submerged in the brine. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Turn the turkey in the brine every few hours if it is not totally submerged. (You can also place the turkey and brine in a large plastic bag placed in a bowl for support, if you do not have a large enough container.) Let steep for 24 to 36 hours.

Stock: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the last two joints off each turkey wing, leaving the wing drumstick on the bird, and put them in a small roasting pan. Roast until the skin is well browned, 45 minutes to an hour. Put the roasted wings in a soup pot with the giblets and the neck, setting the liver aside. Add the vegetables, 1 teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, chicken stock, and 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is falling from the bones and the turkey gizzard is very tender. Poach the turkey liver in the stock for 6 to 7 minutes; remove, cover, and refrigerate. Strain the stock into a bowl or jug, reserving the giblets, and refrigerate. There should be 5 to 6 cups.

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