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Maple-Brined Turkey with Gingersnap Gravy

Gingersnaps move from the dessert plate to the gravy boat in this excellent—and unusual—recipe from Chef Chris Bradley. After an overnight bath in a brine sweetened with maple syrup (preferably from Vermont, says Bradley), the turkey is roasted until golden brown. The roasting juices are combined with stock, apple cider and gingersnaps to create a sweet-savory gravy with a pleasant gingery kick.

Ingredients:

For the maple brine:

  • 1 gallon room-temperature water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs. juniper berries
  • 1 Tbs. whole cloves
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 gallon ice water
  •   
  • 1 fresh turkey, 10 to 12 lb., neck and giblets removed
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  •  

For the gingersnap gravy:

  • 1 quart turkey or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups crumbled gingersnaps
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the brine, in a large stockpot over high heat, combine the room-temperature water, salt, maple syrup, peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the ice water and let cool to room temperature. Submerge the turkey in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Gently smear the butter under the skin of the breast and thighs and stuff the cavity with the sage. Place the onion, carrot and celery in a single layer in a roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast side up, on top. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue roasting until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F and into the thigh registers 175°F, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the gingersnap gravy: Skim the excess fat off the pan juices. Transfer the juices, onion, carrot and celery to a saucepan. Add the stock and apple cider and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Strain the mixture, discarding the solids. Return the liquid to the saucepan and stir in the lemon juice and gingersnaps. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until the gingersnaps dissolve, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk vigorously to break up any lumps and season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a warmed sauceboat.

Carve the turkey and pass the gravy at the table. Serves 8 to 12.

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Chris Bradley, Gramercy Tavern, New York City.