Every Thanksgiving I buy two smaller turkeys instead of one large one. I like this not only because it's a shorter cooking time, but it's also easier to accomplish even cooking. Having two also gives me the opportunity to experiment with different cooking techniques and compare the two side by side. Last Thanksgiving, I ordered my usual two - 8 pound Diestel Petite Turkeys, but we wound up only needing one. I roasted it same as in past years but our friends made the most wonderful roasted duck. That duck was so good, I might have to make it a new tradition for Thanksgiving. So now it's March and I find myself with the other turkey still in my freezer.
I defrosted the turkey in the refrigerator for 3 days. On Friday, I placed it in a salt and brown sugar brine. Last night, I removed it from the brine and placed it back in the refrigerator.
We had planned to barbecue the turkey, but the weather isn't cooperating, so standard oven roasting it is.
I took the turkey out well in advance to let it come close to room temp. I brushed the outside with melted butter and stuffed the cavity with lemon slices, a chopped onion and celery and a couple sprigs of fresh sage. I roasted the turkey on a rack set inside a roasting pan at 425f for 20 minutes. Then turned the oven down to 350f. In the bottom of the pan, I put 2 cups of water and some onions and chopped carrots and roasted the turkey until a thermometer inserted into the leg read 165f. About 2 hours total. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
With the neck and giblets, and juices left in the roasting pan, I made a simple gravy. That's the kids' favorite.
Chris requested a blue cheese and apple sauce that I've made in the past for pork tenderloin. For the sauce, I sauteed sliced apples and onions with a bit of tarragon. Add in chicken broth to and reduce a bit. Then add in a little heavy cream and reduce a bit more. To finish, stir in crumbled blue cheese until melted. This is a very rich sauce. I am happy with my gravy.
Not matching the production of Thanksgiving, I served simple mashed potatoes on the side and a wedge of iceberg lettuce. The girls always have the drumsticks.
I don't know why we don't eat turkey outside of the holidays. It is so yummy and makes your house smell so good. On a rainy day like today, it was just the coziness we needed.