Dry Brined Turkey with Cognac & Thyme Gravy
Makes 12-14 servings.
For the turkey:
1 15 lb. turkey, (free range and organic is preferred),
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 medium large yellow onions, cut into eighths
4 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 medium celery ribs, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
For the turkey broth:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Giblets, neck and tail from the turkey (cut the neck into 1 inch pieces with a cleaver)
1 medium yellow onion
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut into 1 inch pieces
For the gravy:
Drippings from the turkey
2 Tablespoons cognac
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2-1/2 cups Turkey broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons gf flour
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
The night before:
Remove the giblets, neck and tail, if attached, from the turkey and reserve them for making the turkey broth for the gravy. Rinse the turkey thoroughly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup kosher salt all over the turkey and inside the cavity. Put the turkey on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered overnight. Note: When you remove the turkey the skin will be slightly discolored due to the dry salt brine - this is normal.
One hour before roasting:
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. About 20 minutes before roasting, position an oven rack in the lowest part of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place half the onions, carrots, and celery along with the thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs and garlic in the cavity of the turkey and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings behind the neck and under the turkey. Rub the softened unsalted butter all over the outside of the bird. Position the turkey on a v-rack, breast side down, in the center of a large heavy-duty roasting pan. Scatter the remaining vegetables around the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan and continue to roast for another 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and close the oven door to retain the proper temperature. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, turn the turkey over so that it is breast side up. Add about another 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water to the roasting pan and return the turkey to the oven. Continue to roast for another hour to an hour and a half, adding about 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan every 30 minutes. Monitor the internal temperature of the turkey with a instant-read thermometer. The turkey is done when the thermometer (inserted into the thigh) registers 170°F.
Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let the turkey rest for 45 minutes or even up to 1 hour before carving and serving.
While the turkey is cooking make the turkey broth:
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the giblets, neck pieces, tail pieces, onions, carrots, and celery to the pan and sauté until the giblets lose their color and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan; allow it to cook for 20 minutes (the turkey parts will release alot of liquid during this process). Add 1 quart of water to the pan and bring to a boil; reduce heat, partically cover the pan, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the broth is flavorful. Strain the broth into a heatproof measuring cup or bowl and refrigerate. The fat will rise to the surface and coagulate while it chills. Using a spoon skim off the fat.
Make the gravy:
Set the roasting pan with the turkey drippings and vegetables over two burners set on medium high heat. Add the Cognac, vermouth, and 1/2 cup of turkey broth to the roasting pan. Cook, stirring up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the liquid comes to a simmer. Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a sieve into a medium saucepan. Add the remaining 2 cups of turkey broth along with the thyme; bring to a boil over medium high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the cream and gf flour in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Gradually whisk the cream mixture into the broth mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. For an extra rich gravy, just before serving whisk in 2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (optional). Keep gravy hot until ready to serve.
Carve the turkey and serve gravy alongside.