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Roast heritage turkey with blistered pears and parsnips

Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Yields Serves 12 to 16
Roast heritage turkey with blistered pears and parsnips
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
1

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil with 2 cups kosher salt, the sugar, sliced onion, 1 head garlic, 1 bunch thyme, the celery seed and 1 tablespoon black pepper. Boil for 15 minutes. Add 1 1/2 gallons cold water. Prick the skin of the turkey in a few places on the breast and thigh and place the bird in the brine. Refrigerate, covered, in the brine for 24 hours, turning the bird a few times.

2

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse with cold water inside and out. Dry the interior and exterior well using paper towels.

3

Roughly chop 1 parsnip, the carrot and the onion. Cut the head off the garlic crosswise. Season the turkey cavity with 1 teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon pepper. Place the parsnip, carrot, onion, garlic, 1 bunch thyme and 4 tablespoons of cut-up butter into the turkey cavity. Secure the legs and wings with butcher twine.

4

Season the exterior of the turkey with the remaining salt and pepper and dot with the remaining butter. Place into a heavy roasting pan and roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. The internal temperature when a meat thermometer is inserted into the deepest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, should be 165 degrees.

5

About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, add the remaining parsnips -- sliced into quarters lengthwise -- and the pears. Continue basting.

6

Remove the turkey and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Remove the pears and parsnips and keep warm.

7

Remove any burned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan, if necessary. Add about one-half cup chicken broth and heat, stirring up any browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. Strain the juices through a fine mesh strainer, if desired.

8

Carve the turkey and arrange on a platter, then cut the pears into quarters or halves and arrange them around the turkey with the parsnips. Spoon jus over all.

From Christian Shaffer, chef-owner of Auberge at Ojai and Avenue in Manhattan Beach. A free-range turkey may be substituted for the heritage turkey.

Amy Scattergood is a staff writer for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times.
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