Alex Drobysz, Head Chef at Bar Nacional
In the United Kingdom, it is almost impossible to escape a roast turkey on Christmas day!
I have some pretty traumatic childhood memories of completely overcooked, inedible poultry, so I have decided to submit a fairly fool proof recipe that I use, even in the professional kitchen.
The effects of brining almost any meat and even fish are quite amazing, and this recipe is extremely adaptable for use with most meats.
LEMON HERB BRINE TURKEY
Course – Main
Serves – 8
1 litre water
200 gram salt
1 good bunch fresh tarragon
8 cloves garlic
2 small red onion sliced
2 lemons, halved
4 bay leaves
4 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked beneath a pan
1 kilogram ice
1 free range organic turkey (around 5kg)
Combine all of the above except the ice and turkey in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and remove from the heat and let sit for ten minutes.
Put the ice in a bowl or large measuring cup. Pour the herb brine over the ice. Stir until the ice has dissolved.
Put the turkey in a plastic bag, pour the brine in, seal the bag, and let sit at room temperature for two to three hours. Remove the turkey from the bag, discarding the brine. Pat it dry and let it sit out for another hour before using (or you can refrigerate it until needed).
Truss the turkey with some butcher's twine to hold its shape while it roasts – this will also help it roast evenly. Also, take out the wishbone if you're carving the beast whole.
Roughly chop some root vegetables (shallots, carrots, swedes and parsnips are what I personally use) and lay them in a heavy based roasting tray.
Preheat a convection oven to 220C, coat your turkey liberally with good olive oil and equally good salt and then roast until the outside is quite golden brown (this won't take too long because of the brine, 25-35 mins).
Once browned evenly, take the turkey out to rest and lower the temperature to 140C. Place back to finish cooking at that low heat to ensure maximum moisture retention, until you have an internal temperature in the thigh of 72C. I use a probe, but if you're old school, you can pierce it and if the juices run clear then you know that it's done.
Let it rest. This is possibly the most important stage with meat cookery; let all the juice rest back into the meat, or that whole brining process was a waste of time!
Finish the roasted vegetables with some fresh chopped herbs and lemon juice, and you have my idea of a pretty good Christmas lunch!
More of a fish fan? Then check out our recipes for yellow fin tuna, sashimi and baked salmon!
You can also check out the rest of the chef's Christmas recipes here.
Image Credits: Ryan Noreiks, The Urban List