Mark Peel
Co-Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Campanile Restaurant
Los Angeles, CA

This turkey, cured by soaking in a brine mixture, will be slightly pink with a moister texture and spicier flavor than a standard roast bird. Reserve the neck and giblets for another use. An untraditional stuffing made without bread is used to flavor the turkey and thicken the gravy. Be sure to allow time for the turkey to cure overnight.

Spice-Cured Roast Turkey
12 Servings Plus Leftovers

Brown Butter:

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
  • 20 fresh sage leaves

Spice Mixture:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 large dried red chile
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 12 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Cured Turkey:

  • 1 1/3 cups coarse or kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice berries coarsely
  • cracked
  • 1/2 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
  • One 14-pound turkey
  • Table salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegetable Stuffing:

  • 25 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large celery rib, coarsely chopped plus
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery leaves
  • Table salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

1. Make the brown butter: In a medium saucepan, bring the butter to a simmer over moderate heat. Simmer, scraping up any solids that stick to the bottom of the pan, until the butter turns deep brown, about 6 minutes; do not let the butter burn. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the sage leaves and let steep for 5 minutes.

2. Using a fork, discard the sage leaves. Pour the butter into a glass jar or ceramic container, cover and refrigerate until solid, or for up to 2 days. Before using, let the butter soften at room temperature until pliable, at least 30 minutes; stir to distribute any browned solids that have settled on the bottom.

3. Prepare the spice mixture: In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds, chile, allspice berries and peppercorns over moderately high heat, tossing frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cook, then transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and finely grind them (the spice mixture can be kept, covered at room temperature up to 2 days.)

4. Prepare the cured turkey: In a very large stock pot, combine the coarse salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, cloves and allspice and juniper berries. Add 2 gallons of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the heat and let cool to room temperature. add the turkey to the brine, breast side down, cover and let stand overnight in a cool place or in the refrigerator over night.

5. Make the vegetable stuffing: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss the garlic with the onions, celery and celery leaves and 1/2 tablespoon of the spice mixture; season with salt.

6. Season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Spoon all but 2 cups of the stuffing into the chest and neck cavities. Using your fingers, loosen the skin from the breast without tearing it. Evenly spread the softened brown butter under the skin. close the neck with toothpicks.

7. Set the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture all over the bird and loosely tie the legs together with kitchen string. Scatter the reserved stuffing around the turkey and pour the stock over the stuffing.

8. Roast the turkey for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, cover the turkey loosely with foil and continue roasting for about 4 hours, basting frequently, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165-170 degrees. Add water to the pan during cooking if the juices evaporate. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before carving.

9. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pass the pan juices through a coarse strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing down on the softened vegetables to work them through the strainer. Skim the fat from the pan gravy.

10. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners over moderately high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Lower the heat to moderate and boil, stirring constantly until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir this mixture into the pan gravy in the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Warm the gravy through, if necessary, then pour into a sauce boat and serve alongside the turkey.

MARK'S NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: To plant a better herb garden.

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