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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey

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This is my traditional turkey recipe and the one my family insists on year after year. My Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey. Echoing those flavors, I finish, with a Maple Bourbon Gravy.

The brining process starts 24 hours before the bird goes into the oven. There are three parts, all of which are necessary, to have the most flavorful, juicy, and tender turkey you’ll ever have. It’s really all in the planning.

Before starting the whole brine process, the turkey must be completely thawed. My recipe is listed in 3 parts. Part 1 is the brine. Part 2 is the prep of the turkey for the oven. Part 3 is cooking the turkey and making the gravy.

 

Part 1. The Brine
Prep Time: 40 to 45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 to 10 minutes
Equipment: 1 8-quart plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, 1 large stockpot

Ingredients:
12-pound turkey
2 quarts water
2 orange peels
1 lemon peel
3 cloves of smashed garlic
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of bourbon
1 1/2  12-ounce bottles of pure maple syrup
15 sprigs of thyme  (no need to strip leaves)
1 large sprig of Rosemary ( no need to strip leaves)
5 bay leaves (dried)
2 tablespoons of tricolor peppercorns
1 1/2 cups of organic apple juice
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Prep all the ingredients for the brine including measuring out the water. Place all the ingredients listed above in a large stockpot. Turn stove on medium-high heat and bring everything up to a boil, 7 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat source. Let the brine cool down, then place it into the frig, uncovered to chill, for around 30 to 35 minutes or until completely cool.

Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and innards from the cavities of the bird. The only part I keep is the neck to make turkey stock from. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Completely pat dry the turkey really well. Place the bird into the brine container and back into the frig until the brine liquid has cooled.

Once the brine is ready and completely cooled, take the turkey in the brine container out and pour the liquid over the bird. The bird should be completely submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours. A quick note: Take notice on what time you place the bird into the brine. This will give you an idea of when the bird will be going into the oven. Allow an extra 20 minutes for rinsing the brine off the bird and letting it soak in clean water for 15 minutes. This will remove any extra salt flavor still on the bird. Then once again you will need to dry the turkey completely before part 2.

 

Part 2. Prepping Turkey
Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: approx. 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: approx. 3 hours
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
2 cloves of grated garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 onion, skin on and quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half lengthwise
10 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock- generally 2 cups (enough to fill the bottom of the roasting pan with liquid, having the level of liquid about 1 inch high). 1 quart is used to make the turkey stock

Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.
Once the bird has come out of the brine and well dried, it’s time to make a *compound butter for the turkey. In a medium-size mixing bowl prepare the *compound butter. Add softened butter, the zest of both the lemon and orange, freshly grated garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, mix to combine. Moving on, release the bird’s legs from their packaging position as you see in the pictures.

With my clean hands, lift up the skin on the breast area and slather as much of the butter underneath the skin as possible. Reaching as far around with breaking or tearing the skin. Next, I fill both cavities of the bird with flavorings.

Next, cut the same lemon and orange that have already been zested, in half, placing half of each one into each of the cavities. Same with the halved head of garlic, and the quartered onion in both cavities. Finally, divide the sprigs of herbs up and place them into both cavities.

Now I rub the compound butter underneath the skin, reaching as far as you can without breaking the skin. Next, rub the olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Then sprinkle the  Kosher salt and black pepper all over the turkey. Finally, add the 2 cups of broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Part 3. Cooking Turkey:
Reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Place the turkey on the center rack in the oven. Every 30 to 45 minutes remove the turkey from the oven. Close the oven door to keep the heat in, and baste the turkey, using the juices from the bottom of the pan. About halfway through the cooking process, take the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer between the thigh and the breast meat for the best reading. This allows you to see how fast the bird is cooking and to gauge the time better. If you see the top is browning to quickly, place a foil tent over the turkey for the time remaining. Keep in mind,  you still need to baste the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes. Once the turkey’s temperature reaches 165-degrees F. around 2 hours 40 minutes, take the bird out of the oven.

While the turkey is in the oven, this is what I’m doing on top of the stove.

 

Equipment: 5-quart saucepot, fat separator

Ingredients For Turkey Stock:
Turkey neck
1 quart plus 2 cups of unsalted chicken stock
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Ingredients For Maple Gravy:
1 turkey neck
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
12 sage leaves (reserve 4 leaves chopped for the finished gravy)
1 1/2 cups of homemade turkey stock
1 cup of unsalted chicken stock
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Part 3 Continues.
Directions For Turkey Stock:
In a large saucepot add the turkey neck and cover with 1 quart of unsalted chicken stock, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat up to med-high heat, bring this up to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook, on medium-low heat, for 1 /1/2 hours.

Once finished, strain the liquid, using a mesh sieve, over a bowl to catch this delicious stock. Now I have a container of turkey stock along with a container with my leftover unsalted chicken stock (remember I only used 2 cups for the bottom of the roasting pan) to make my gravy.

At this point, remove the bird from the pan. I like to tilt the bird slightly over the roasting pan so that any juices that are in the cavities will fall to the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on a large board and cover with foil until you’re ready to carve. Leave all the ingredients, in the cavities.

First, add 8 sage leaves while the juices are still really hot. Allow the sage to steep in the juices for a couple of minutes, then remove them. I use one of those gadgets that separate the fat from the juices that accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. I discard the fat and pour the juices into a bowl.

I return the empty roasting pan to the stove, over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the homemade turkey stock, I made earlier. Scraping the bits off the bottom (*deglazing) until they all release. I combined these juices with the pan juices in the bowl. Now my pan juices have no fat but the extra flavor from the bits that came off the bottom of the pan.

Start by making a *roux for the gravy.
Working with a clean roasting pan again, over medium heat. Add butter, let the butter melt before adding the flour. Whisking continuously until all the raw flour has cooked out. Next, add the pan juices (I reserved in the bowl) along with bourbon, maple syrup, chicken stock, and the turkey stock. I turn the heat back up to medium-high, still whisking, and let all those ingredients come up to a bubble and thicken. I also add in the reserved chopped sage leaves for color and flavor in the gravy.

This is my Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey With Maple Bourbon Gravy.

*Compound Butter is a mixture of butter and other supplementary ingredients, such as herbs, seasonings, acid or and other flavorful and aromatic ingredient. Used to enhance flavor.

*Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour using in making sauces.

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Blackberry Bourbon Barbecue Chicken

 

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When I started playing around with this recipe, I knew it was going to be delicious. Then the name Blackberry Bourbon Barbecue Chicken, say that three times fast! The sweet and savory components, accompanied by the complexity of the flavors, really shine through in this dish.  If you’re not a fan of blackberries, don’t worry, there are other fruit options, like, apricots, peaches, even raspberries.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is how I’m preparing the chicken, for this dish. I know, whenever you make a one-pot meal, the browning of the protein, first, is very important. This part of the cooking process ensures extra flavor and seals in the juices.

The browning of the meat in oil, and having to do that process in batches, can be a real pain. The oil splatters and it can get really messy. I’ve decided to oven roast the chicken and eliminate that step. The chicken still comes out caramelized and, NO MESS!

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Red Quinoa

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (remember the chicken roasts at the same time the sauce is being prepared)
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings (2 pieces of chicken per plate)
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 6-quart Dutch Oven

Ingredients For Roasting Chicken:
4 large chicken breast, bone-in skin-on (cut breast in half yielding 8 pieces)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients For Blackberry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce:
1 large onion diced
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper(optional)
1 pint of good bourbon
4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 small jar of sugar-free blackberry jam
1 standard bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
2 1/2 cups of unsalted or low sodium chicken broth
2-pints of fresh blackberries, reserve 1-pint for garnish
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Ingredients For Quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken broth, or water

Directions For Roasting Chicken:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
After you’ve cut the 2 chicken breasts in half, pat them dry really well. Place the 8 breasts on two baking sheets. Brush each of chicken pieces with olive oil sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of  Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven, start the sauce on the top of the stove. Once you have all the ingredients working on top of the stove. Next, turn the oven to broil position. Keep a close eye on the chicken, and continue cooking for around another 5-7 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown.  Remove the chicken from the oven and set it aside.

Adjust the oven temperature to 350-degrees F.  The chicken will finish cooking during the braising process.

Directions For Blackberry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce:
Oven set to 350 degrees F.
In a 6-quart Dutch oven on medium-high heat, start sweating the onions and garlic. Add the cayenne pepper, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, sautè for 2-3 minutes. Add the bourbon and let reduce by half.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the sugar-free blackberry jam, stir to combine. Next, add the liquids, the barbecue sauce, and chicken broth. Again, stir to combine. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.  Continue cooking for another minute.

Add the chicken to the pot. Bring the pot back up to a bubble, reduce to a simmer, and place the lid on. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked,  or until the internal temperature 165-degrees, and chicken is tender.

Once the pot comes out of the oven, carefully transfer the chicken to a plate. With the stove on medium heat, bring the sauce up to temperature, continually stirring so the sauce doesn’t burn and thickens about 5 minutes.

Place the chicken back into the pot. Add the fresh blackberries. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook with lid off, occasionally stirring for another 15- 20 minutes.

Note: While the chicken is simmer in the sauce, start the quinoa.

Directions For Quinoa:
Cooks Note:  Be sure to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking as there is a bitter coating on the grains.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the quinoa and chicken broth (or water) to a boil. Reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

To Serve:
Spoon the quinoa onto the plate. Place the chicken on top and ladle some of that delicious sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh blackberries and Italian flat-leaf parsley. Serve hot.

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