Alsatian-Brined Turkey with Riesling Gravy

by Monica Bennion on November 16, 2011

You’ll be the talk of the table with this one-of-a-kind turkey and gravy recipe, perfect to pair with our 2009 Jana Mendocino Old Vine Riesling.

5 quarts plus 2 cups cold water
Kosher salt (at least 2 cups)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup dried chopped onion
2 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorn, lightly crushed
2 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
6 bay leaves
One 18lb turkey, neck and giblets reserved for another use
2 1/2 cups Riesling
1 large onion, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of the water to a boil.  Add 1/ 1/4 cups kosher salt, the sugar, mustard seeds, dried onion, caraway seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaves.  Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar completely.  Remove the pot from the heat.

Line a large stockpot or bucket with 2 very large, sturdy plastic bags.  Put the turkey into the bags, neck first.  Pour the warm brine over the turkey.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the Riesling and 4 quarts of the cold water.  Seal the bags; press out as much air as possible.  Refrigerate for 2 days.

On Thanksgiving morning, preheat the oven to 350°.  Drain the turkey, scraping off the spices, then transfer it to a large roasting pan and let it return to room temperature.  Discard the brine.

Add the quartered onion, the garlic and 1 cup of water to the pan and roast the turkey for 1 1/2 hours.  Add the remaining 1 cup of water to the pan and roast for about 1 1/2 hours longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into an inner thigh reads 165°.  Cover the breast loosely with foil during the last hour of roasting to prevent it from browning too quickly.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board.  Strain the pan juices into a measuring cup and skim off the fat; reserve 3 tbsp of the fat.  In a bowl, mix the reserved 3 tbsp with the flour until a paste forms.

Set the roasting pan over 2 burners and heat until sizzling.  Add the remaining 1 cup of Riesling and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.  Strain the wine into a medium saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and the reserved pan juices and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the flour paste and simmer over moderate heat until the gravy thickens slightly and no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Carve the turkey and serve with the Riesling gravy on the side.

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