Thanksgiving Turkey
Chef Rick Moonen shows us how to cook and carve the Perfect Turkey

Ingredients for Brine

  • 2 Gallons water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 onions, medium dice
  • 4 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and medium dice
  • 2 heads garlic cut in half
  • 2 oz fresh thyme
  • 2 oz fresh rosemary
  • 2 oz fresh sage
  • 12 allspice berries (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns (to taste)
  • 10 lb ice cubes
  • 12-14 lb whole turkey, thawed or fresh

Ingredients for Roasting

  • 8 oz butter

Ingredients for Gravy

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups mixture of finely chopped onions, carrots and celery
  • Up to ¾ cup flour


1. Brine the turkey: Remove giblets, neck and liver from turkey and reserve. Wash the turkey. In a nonreactive container, completely dissolve salt and sugar into water. Add remaining brine ingredients (except for ice.) In a clean and sterile cooler place the bird breast side down. Pour brine over turkey in cooler. Add ice on top. Close lid and shake to combine. Brine turkey for 12 hours.

2. Prepare the gravy: Place reserved neck, giblets, and liver in stockpot, cover with 6 cups low sodium chicken stock. Slow simmer for one hour. Strain, reserve stock separately, remove parts, chop neck meat with liver and giblets and set aside for gravy.

3. Prepare the turkey: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 12 hours, remove turkey from the brine. Quickly rinse turkey in a clean sink and pat dry using paper towels. Strain the brine into colander and rinse to melt ice. Leave turkey and vegetables at room temperature for one hour. Stuff brine vegetables into the cavity to plump up the breast. Tie legs together and pull back, securing around neck and wings. Smooth room temperature butter all over the turkey and place breast side up on a rack inside of a large roasting pan.

4. Roast the turkey: Place bird in preheated oven. Once bird is in oven, immediately turn heat down to 350 degrees. Baste in 45 minute intervals. Roast for approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. Start testing doneness at 2 hours—thigh meat should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove turkey from oven, take it out of the pan and place on platter. Let rest for 30-45 minutes under aluminum foil while you make gravy.

5. Finish the gravy: After the turkey roasts, take the rack out of the roasting pan. Take roasting pan and place over low heat on two kitchen burners. Add two cups of mixture of onions, celery, carrots. Start to stir with spoon to allow vegetables to cook in remaining juices and oil in pan. The juices will come to a sizzle. When liquid is no longer making noise, incorporate one half to three-quarters cup flour depending on how thick you prefer your gravy, scraping all bits off bottom. Using whisk, incorporate strained chicken stock that you made. Bring to simmer. Strain mixture into a medium saucepot. Adjust the seasoning and consistency, adding more stock to taste. Add reserved chopped liver, neck and giblets, keep warm on side while you carve turkey.

6. Carve turkey: Pour any of the juices that has pooled up over resting process into gravy. Remove legs and breast from carcass, separating and take breast off bone.