I look forward to Thanksgiving more than almost any other holiday. It’s a time to slow down, even for just a day, and share the season with those most important to us. Friends, family, acquaintances and old companions spend the day over a wonderful meal and give thanks for the bounty we have. And while I’m most grateful for the true meaning of Thanksgiving, I can’t ignore that the star on center stage is my turkey.
This year we wanted to add a different dimension to the bird by using Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract. Vanilla in a savory dish? You bet! Combining it with a variety of savory ingredients like mustard seeds, salt and pepper add an intriguing note to your next holiday turkey.
Vanilla Brined Thanksgiving Turkey
Makes 1 16-20lb turkey
1 16-20lb Turkey, giblets removed, cleaned and pat dry
¾ cup Kosher Salt
2/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
¼ cup Spice Islands® Old Hickory Smoked Salt
2 tablespoons Spice Islands® Ground White Pepper
1 tablespoon Spice Islands® Ground Cardamom
2 Spice Islands® Cinnamon Sticks
2 teaspoons Spice Islands® Yellow Mustard Seeds
½ gallon Vegetable Stock
1/3 cup Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
½ gallon Heavily Iced Water
Vanilla Bourbon Butter:
1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened
3 tablespoons Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Sweet Bourbon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Green Apple, halved
1 Yellow Onion, halved
½ bunch Thyme
½ bunch Rosemary
1 Spice Islands® Cinnamon Stick
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place the first eight ingredients of the brine in a large pot and simmer until the spices dissolve. Allow to cool completely.
3. Pour the cooled stock mixture into a large storage container and stir in the vanilla and ice water.
4. Completely submerge the turkey into the liquid breast side down and brine for 10-16 hours, stored in a cool, dry place.
5. While the turkey is in the brine, make the vanilla-bourbon butter: Place the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside.
6. When ready, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry.
7. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the aromatics and rub the skin, both under and over, with the vanilla bourbon butter.
8. Season the turkey with salt and pepper.
9. Tie the legs together tightly, tuck the wings under the back, and transfer the bird to a roasting pan.
10. Place the turkey into the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, allowing the skin to brown.
11. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with foil to prevent burning.
12. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast the turkey for 2 ½ to 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
13. 30 minutes before the turkey is ready to come out of the oven, remove the foil from the breast and continue to roast until an instant read thermometer reads 161°F.
14. Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely covered with foil and allow to rest for 20-30minutes before carving.