Thanksgiving is here and it’s time for the all American feast and every family’s traditional dishes.
The table will be set and lined with dressing, yams, mashed potatoes, scalloped oysters, green bean casseroles, buttered noodles, cranberry sauce, gravy, salads of all types and hot buttered pan rolls. Pies, you say? Oh yes, pumpkin, pecan, French silk, apple and cherry, oh my! For sure, we cannot forget the pie.
And then there is the main player, the star of the table, the MVP, Mr. traditional himself, Tom Turkey.
This year, I am keeping it local and it won’t be difficult, I can guarantee you. While my wife and daughter prepare all the main dishes, old Tom turkey is my job.
I am purchasing a local turkey from Hen House Market and I am going to brine him this year. After working on a simple brown sugar and whiskey glaze the past few weeks, I’ve decided I have to bring in our favorite local whiskey distilled by Kansas City’s J. Rieger & Co. to help complete the job.
I prepare a simple brine for the turkey, making sure that the sodium in the brine gets infused throughout the turkey. I add the usual suspects such as salt, fresh herbs, cloves and peppercorns along with some garlic, maple syrup and J. Rieger Whiskey. Seriously, you can’t go wrong here.
As for the glaze, I absolutely love it. More J. Rieger Whiskey is added but there is not really a strong taste of whiskey so don’t worry about that. With J. Rieger Whiskey, you can surely taste the extra sweetness and a little something more than the brown sugar.
The smooth flavor from their barrel aging and the trace of the 15 year old Oloroso Sherry added during the distillation really makes for a slightly sweet and wonderful glaze.
As you can see, the whole process of brining and preparing the glaze along with roasting the turkey is really simple.
So here you have it, my very quick and easy Thanksgiving 101 recipe this year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have had creating it. And perhaps you may want to sneak a few shots of whiskey during the whole process, don’t worry, I am sure no one will notice!
Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Jasper’s Mirabile’s Whiskey & Brown Sugar Brined & Glazed Turkey
12 - 15 pound turkey
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup J. Rieger whiskey
5 thyme sprigs
5 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup J. Rieger whiskey
Place all brine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool completely. Line a cooler with a large food-safe or brining bag. Remove the giblets and turkey neck and rinse the turkey inside and out. Place turkey (breast side down) in bag and add brine. Seal bag and load cooler with ice. Allow to brine overnight.
Remove turkey from bag, rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush turkey with olive oil; dust with poultry seasoning and pepper. Place turkey in oven and cook until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, about 3 to 3.5 hours.
Make glaze: place butter and brown sugar in sauté pan. Add whiskey and stir until glaze forms. Remove from heat. Remove turkey from oven, brush glaze over turkey, and return to oven for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven and let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.