This past Thanksgiving, I picked up 3 turkeys over 3 trips to the grocery store. I couldn’t pass up paying under 60 cents a pound for meat. I tried Alton Brown’s Dry Brined Turkey with 2 of the turkeys, which was amazing both times. I wanted to try something different for the 3rd one as well as review another chef’s recipe. Just after the New Year I pulled out of my turkeys out of it’s cold winters nap and broke out Giada’s recipe for a Cranberry-Orange Glazed Turkey. The daunting task of this turkey was having to break down into pieces as the recipe calls for. But the fun part is getting to make a tasty, tangy glaze with cranberry and orange juice. Below you will my notes from this recipe. To print out the recipe, visit Food Network’s website.
1. The recipe calls for an 11-pound bird. Mine was a little bit over 12. Anything in that ball park of 11 is good. I wouldn’t want to try to cut up a 22 pounder!
2. Cutting this thing was a challenge. I followed the YouTube video below as a guide as I have never done it before. As you can see from above I had a little trouble keeping all the skin attached to the breast meat. In the end, I got all the pieces I wanted even if they weren’t perfect looking. Unless your writing for a food blog, don’t worry about being perfect. This kind of thing takes practice. Or you could do what Giada did and have your butcher do the work for you.
3. The recipe said to cook it for 1 hour 10 minutes before adding the glaze. I decided to check the temperature after that time and I had already reached my thermal destination. So I brushed on the glaze with my favorite OXO silicone pastry brush and just put it back in for 5 minutes to solidify the glaze. I then brushed on some additional glaze.
4. I opted for 100% juice instead of cranberry cocktail. I used Old Orchard which isn’t 100% cranberry, it has cranberry juice in it mixed with some cheaper juice fillers (like apple juice).
5. I decided to make a double batch of the glaze. I already had the ingredients on hand as you don’t use all the juice concentrates and marmalade. I wanted to be sure I had enough glaze to add to the gravy without worrying about having to go light on the turkey. I still had some leftover in the end, good for freezing for another day. I took the leftover orange and cranberry concentrate I had and mixed it all together with some water to make a cran-orange juice.
6. To make the gravy, you use the pan juices. The challenge is that there is a lot of fat to deal with. I don’t own a fat separator so what I did was pour the juices directly from the sheet pan into the widest bowl I had clean. Then I placed that bowl into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This helped to harden up the fat. I then used a turkey baster to suck out as much fat as I could. Don’t worry about getting every last bite.
7. To finish the gravy, I took 1 cup of homemade giblet stock from my last turkey that I had froze. I melted it in a large non-stick frying pan. Mixed in the pan juices, brought it all to a boil. Then I added 3 tablespoons of the glaze. Allowed it to reduce for about 4 minutes. Added 1 tablespoon of butter for that creamy mouth feel.
The flavor of the turkey was outstanding. Not too sweet and not too tart. The gravy was unlike anything I ever had. It had that great turkey flavor from the pan juices and stock, but it also the addition of the cranberry-orange glaze brought it to a whole another dimension. The turkey itself wasn’t as juicy as the brined ones I have made. It wasn’t dry by any means thought and the unique gravy helps to compensate. My family enjoyed experiencing a turkey with a different flavor. Next Thanksgiving I will probably still do Alton’s method, but that isn’t a knock against Giada’s turkey, just a testament to how good Alton’s is.