Molasses-Brined Turkey with Gingersnap Gravy By EPICURIOUS.COM

Brining ensures moist, succulent meat, and this recipe from Bruce Aidells, chef and founder of Aidells Sausage Company, could not be easier or more low-tech. The special equipment required? Two 30-gallon plastic bags and one very large (16-quart) bowl that will fit in the fridge. You'll want to get started a day ahead, because the turkey is brined for 18 to 20 hours. Stuffing this turkey is not recommended; the brine remaining in the meat may soak into the stuffing during roasting. - EPICURIOUS.COM

INGREDIENTS:
  1. 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  2. 2 medium carrots, chopped
  3. 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  4. 1 onion, halved
  5. 2 small bay leaves
  6. Neck, heart, and gizzard reserved from 18- to 20-pound turkey
  7. 1 (18 pound) turkey
  8. 7 quarts water
  9. 2 cups coarse salt
  10. 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  11. 1 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  12. 2 bunches fresh thyme
  13. 1 bunch fresh sage
  14. 2 quarts ice cubes
  15. 2 large onions, halved
  16. 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
  17. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  18. 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  19. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  20. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  21. 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  22. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  23. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  24. 20 gingersnap cookies, coarsely crumbled
  25. 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  26. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  27. 1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)

COOKING DIRECTIONS:

  1. For stock: Combine broth, carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves in large saucepan. Add reserved neck, heart, and gizzard. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until stock is reduced to 3 1/4 cups, about 1 hour. Strain turkey stock into medium bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover stock and refrigerate.)
  2. For brine and turkey: Line very large (about 16-quart) bowl with two 30-gallon plastic bags, one inside the other. Rinse turkey inside and out. Place turkey in plastic-lined bowl. Combine 7 quarts water, salt, sugar, molasses, 1 bunch thyme, and 1/2 bunch sage in large bowl or pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Mix in ice cubes. Pour brine over turkey in plastic bags. Gather tops of bags together, eliminating air space above brine; seal bags. Refrigerate turkey in brine 18 to 20 hours.
  3. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Remove turkey from brine. Drain very well; discard brine. Pat turkey dry inside and out. Place turkey on small rack set in large roasting pan. Fill main cavity with remaining 1 bunch thyme and 1/2 bunch sage, onions, and garlic. Stir oil, pepper, chopped thyme, and chopped sage in small bowl to form paste; smear all over outside of turkey. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape.
  4. Roast turkey 1 hour, tenting loosely with foil if browning quickly. Turn pan around; roast turkey 30 minutes. Pour 1 cup broth over turkey; re-tent loosely with foil. Roast turkey, basting with 1 cup broth every 30 minutes until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees F, about 2 hours longer. Transfer turkey to platter. Remove vegetables and herbs from main cavity and discard. Spoon any juices from cavity into roasting pan. Let turkey stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will increase 5 to 10 degrees).
  5. For gravy: Strain pan juices into bowl. Spoon off fat, reserving 2 tablespoons. Heat reserved 2 tablespoons turkey fat in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and thyme. Saute until onion browns, about 10 minutes. Add turkey stock, gingersnaps, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Add 2 cups degreased pan juices and bring to boil, whisking to dissolve gingersnaps. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy thickens, about 4 minutes. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper, adding remaining tablespoon vinegar and cream, if desired.
  6. Serve turkey with gravy.

Yield: 14 servings

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