Sam Beall, proprietor of Blackberry Farm, likes to inject his turkey with a mixture of chicken fat and sorghum syrup before roasting, a technique that produces incredibly juicy meat. For a similar effect, the chefs at the farm created this apple cider brine with lots of herbs and spices. They use sorghum syrup, a locally produced sweetener available at Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill, to sweeten the brine, but maple syrup works equally well. Roasting garlic and shallots along with the turkey enhances the bird’s aroma while cooking and provides easy, attractive garnishes for the serving platter.
For the brine:
- 2 quarts (2 l) water
- 2 quarts (2 l) apple cider
- 3/4 cup (185 g) kosher salt
- 1 cup (345 g) sorghum syrup or maple syrup
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 juniper berries
- 5 allspice berries
- 1 turkey, 12 to 14 lb. (6 to 7 kg), neck and giblets removed, turkey rinsed
For the spice rub:
- 1/4 cup (60 g) sumac
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- 2 Tbs. turmeric
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil or canola oil
To make the brine, in a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water, cider, salt and sorghum syrup to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Off the heat, add the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, juniper berries and allspice. Let cool.
Place the turkey in a large pot or brining bag. Add the brine plus enough water so the turkey is completely covered. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 12 hours.
To make the spice rub, in a bowl, combine the sumac, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and pepper.
Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).
Brush the turkey all over with the oil and apply the spice rub. Place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Transfer to the oven and reduce the oven to 400°F (200°C). Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 350°F (180°C). Continue roasting until the internal temperature of the breast registers 165°F (74°C) and the thigh, 175°F (80°C), 2 to 2 1/2 hours more. Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Serves 8 to 12.
Recipe by Sam Beall, Proprietor, Blackberry Farm