Dinner is over. The turkey came out great. It was incredibly moist and looked golden and beautiful. We brined the turkey last night with brown sugar, salt, water, oranges, lemons, rosemary and thyme. Then we cooked it by stuffing it with oranges, lemons, onions, and rubbing the orange and butter, and pepper on the outside. The recipe said only to cover it if it started to look brown quickly and this happened after about 1 minute, so it got foiled and only took about 2.5 hours to cook, which is pretty fast for a 16 lb. turkey. That was at 425 degrees.
I made the stuffing yesterday because I wanted to see exactly how long it would take. I'm glad I didn't just try this on Thanksgiving because I am sure it would have been a disaster time-wise. The chestnut and apple stuffing was yummy! The chestnuts really give the stuffing a meaty flavor. I'm used to stuffing made with sausage, but I didn't miss the meat at all. And the fact that it was made with day old baguette instead of bagged stuffing cubes made all the difference. Now don't get me wrong, I still like the bagged stuffing cubes too, but this got so crunchy on top with all the butter. Yum. If only I hadn't sliced my finger while peeling the cooked chestnuts, this would have been fairly simple to make, but it took double the time because I had to work with one hand for awhile.
Now the disappointment was the gravy. It was a cointreau and cognac pan gravy. I doubled the recipe because it looked like I had double the drippings. Everything looked the way it was supposed to, but boy was it salty! You could tell it had some really good depth of flavor, but the salt just overpowered everything. I'm not sure if this was because the turkey was overbrined, which if it was, didn't affect the turkey, or if it was because the chicken broth I added along with the fact that it was brined just made it that way. Either way, I'm in a conundrum about what to do for Thursday. Not sure if we should brine the turkey less, use no sodium chicken broth and try again, or if I should just try a different gravy entirely? Any wisdom would be appreciated!
I should make mention that although this brined turkey was incredibly moist, I don't think it was any more moist than the turkey my mom makes, which is not brined and is cooked at 450 under foil, stuffed, and just coated in butter. I'm also debating if I should just do that instead. So as you can see, this dry run was good, but hasn't really helped me figure out my Thanksgiving menu!