Thanksgiving Tradition, Apple Brined Turkey

First, start with Turkey 101. Got that? Then, resume with my apple turkey brine tradition below.

Hands down, my Apple Brined Turkey recipe is an all time winner for a moist and flavorful turkey. Need more kitchen? If your oven is all jammed up – take it outdoors and grill it. Or, a Thanksgiving turkey solution: Cook 1 turkey in the oven and 1 on the grill.   

George’s Apple Brined Roasted Turkey

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

Brining is an overnight process requiring TWO days preparation.

If preparing a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it in refrigerator well in advance. Brine the turkey in a large stockpot or a large food-safe-plastic bag.  The turkey needs to be completely submerged in brine, or you must turn turkey every couple hours. I prefer turkeys no larger than 12-14 pounds for best tenderness and flavor; and if grilling I have my butcher split the turkey for ease of brining and grilling. Cook additional turkeys if serving more than 12-14 people. As a guide, figure each pound of turkey on the bone feeds one person. 

STEP 1: First day

On the day prior to cooking: Brine for a 12-pound turkey; prepare a double brine recipe for larger turkey. 

Apple Brine Mixture

8 cups apple cider

1/4 cup Maple syrup

2/3 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

2 bay leaves

To prepare brine, combine ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely. 

STEP 2: First day

Add Flavor Ingredients to Apple Brine Mixture:

6 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half

1 onion, quartered

1 rib celery, chopped into two inch pieces

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & sliced

3 each sage leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme

4 cups ice

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for making gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters, ice, onion, ginger, sage, rosemary and thyme. Place turkey in a large stockpot or food-safe-plastic bag. Pour apple brine mixture over turkey. Depending on size of turkey refrigerate for 6 hours for a split turkey, or 12 hours for a whole 12 pound, turning occasionally. Add one-hour bringing time per additional pound of turkey.

Spice Rub

1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

To Roast:

1 yard kitchen twine

2 cups chicken broth or stock

4 Tablespoons butter

fresh ground black pepper

6 slices pancetta or bacon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine, discard brine and orange quarters. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over, breast side up. Put turkey neck and giblets in pan. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper; lay slices of pancetta over breasts. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center meaty part of thigh registers 170º. 

Cover breast of turkey loosely with foil if it browns too quickly. Remove turkey from oven; let stand 30 minutes. Pour off drippings and remove turkey neck and giblets for gravy; cover turkey to keep warm. 

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Q on Demand

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I’m getting into dangerous territory here, because I’m talking pork Q. There is nothing I like better than a slow cooked smoked pork shoulder or butt, served with a soft piece of bread and a vinegary sauce. Sounds good, doesn't it? However, you’ll have to wait five plus hours for the real deal or jump in the car and head to your favorite smokehouse. Here’s a solution. Whip-up my BBQ Pork Sandwich as a snack while you slowly cook-up a pork shoulder. 

It’s a winner! The trick is in a little advanced planning by applying a dry rub on a tender pork tenderloin for 24 hours, then quickly grill for 15-25 minutes! A crowd pleaser, many times. Enjoy!

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George Hirsch's Pork BBQ Sandwich

Makes six servings 

George Hirsch Lifestyle  |©1995 Gather 'round Grill cookbook by George Hirsch with Marie Bianco

chefgeorgehirsch.com   | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin 

1/4 cup Pork Rub

2 Tablespoons olive oil

6 soft rolls or hamburger buns

1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup Q Sauce

Dry rub the pork tenderloin. Rub pork spices over pork tenderloin and refrigerate until ready to cook*. (*If time permits, putting the rub on one day prior or two hours before cooking will really increase the flavor)

PORK RUB

2 Teaspoons each; powdered garlic, paprika

1 Tablespoon each; black pepper, rosemary, thyme, Chipotle rub

Q SAUCE

1/4 cup BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup Steak Sauce

1/4 cup Hoisen sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce)

2 Tablespoons ketchup

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar 

Mix all ingredients. Serve sauce warm or at room temperature.

TIP: To cut cooking time in half, butterfly the meat. Use skewers to keep the meat from curling up.

To Cook Pork: 

Pre Heat Grill to high heat.

Rub olive oil over pork tenderloin. Place pork tenderloins on high heat and grill to golden brown turning once on all sides. Lower heat to medium, cook until pork is fully cooked about 15-25 minutes* (see *Tip). Remove from grill and let meat rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Slice pork tenderloin very thin, pile high on soft buns. Drizzle Q Sauce over meat, top with finely shredded cabbage.

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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The Midweek Salad

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Grilled Romaine

Did you know lettuce made the top ten garden vegetables in America? It ranked number nine; trailing behind hot peppers, onions, zucchini, carrots, beans, sweet peppers, cucumber and tomatoes. The good news is lettuce beat out beans!

I received an email request that inspired this post. This was one of those recipes I did for my live PBS grilling shows that made people scratch their head years ago. The audience in the Disney Parks was at first shocked, then amazed! Now, its considered all the buzz, appearing on other cooking shows including chain restaurants. I guess they Know their Fire! Ha! Well, here's the how-to on grilling-up a delicious appetizer or side. I'll be making it this week. Enjoy! Top with this dressing.

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Grilled Romaine

Makes four servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.comAdventures in Grilling, 1996 by George Hirsch w/ Marie Bianco

2 Heads of hearts of romaine lettuce, split in half & washed

4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves caramelized garlic

A pinch of sea salt 

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, rough chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Pre heat grill to high heat.

Cut the romaine heart in half lengthwise, leaving stem end intact. Soak romaine heads in bowl of cold water. Brush with olive oil.

Put romaine halves on hot grill. Cook for about 2 minutes each side, until lettuce begins to blister slightly and lettuce gets a slight char. Turn over and grill for 2 additional minutes.  

Remove and plate cut side up, and top each with remaining olive oil, balsamic, garlic cloves, Parmesan, prosciutto, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve while still warm.

Optional: serve with thinly sliced prosciutto, grilled chicken, or grilled shrimp. 

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Backyard Street Food

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A national dish of Indonesia, the satay, is a marinated skewered meat with sauce, usually spicy. Satay is often served in Malaysia by street-side vendors. It's an easy and quick solution to backyard grilling. I thought this would be a fun dish to cook street-side on 67th Street in NYC on Live! The three of us had a blast making this on a NYC street - just imagine the fun you and your guests can have in your own backyard. It's also one of those informal dishes that doesn't require a fork and a knife. 

TIP: I always prefer using metal skewers as I find the food cooks faster and more uniformly. But, when in a pinch and when cleanup of the skewers is not practical, bamboo skewers are very handy. Just make sure to soak the bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes prior to threading, to avoid the skewers from burning up on the grill. 

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Pork Satay with Sesame Dipping Sauce

Makes 6 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 3-inch-long pieces 

For the Marinade:

1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped 

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce) 

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 

Juice from two limes 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

2 teaspoons each soy sauce and sesame oil 

1 green onion, chopped 

6 long skewers

Mix marinade ingredients in medium bowl. 

Cut pork lengthwise into thin 1/4-inch slices. Tip: It is easier to cut meat when it is very cold. 

Thread pork onto each of six skewers. Reserve 1/3 cup of marinade in a small bowl. Brush remaining marinade over both sides of pork. Cover pork, refrigerate for one hour. 

Preheat grill to high heat. Grill pork until cooked through, two-four minutes per side. Brush pork with reserved marinade. Serve on a fresh banana or ty leaf if available and top with chopped green onion or red onion.

Although it is very common to serve a peanut dipping sauce with a satay I find my Sesame Dipping Sauce to go better with the pork. 

For the Sesame Dipping Sauce

Recipe George Hirsch | Makes one cup

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 

 1/4 cup lite soy sauce 

 2 Tablespoons honey 

 2 Tablespoons ketchup 

 1 Tablespoon sesame oil 

 2 cloves garlic, chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl one hour before serving. Serve as a dipping sauce for Satay, steamed dumplings or summer rolls. 

Optional: to make spicy add 1 teaspoon chili sauce or hot pepper flakes.

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Vine Ripen Pizza

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When it comes to making any type of pizza let imagination and the season rule your toppings. I love this caprese style pizza in the summer with the abundance of vine ripe tomatoes. And if you are up to expanding your hand tossed style take the dough to the grill for an added fire roasted flavor.

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Caprese Flatbread Pizza  

Makes four servings | chefgeorgehirsch.com

From George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series

Mix Dough and place in a bowl lightly oiled with olive oil. cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight. 

Next day, pre heat *oven to 475 degrees F. 

Stretch out dough to a rectangular shape and cut into two pieces. Sprinkle a teaspoon of fine grind corn meal on the surface of a heavy gauge pizza pan or sheet pan. Place the two pieces of dough on the top of corn meal. Brush top lightly with olive oil. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until pizza flatbread crusts are fully baked. You can check for doneness by tapping on the edge of the dough with your finger. It should should hollow. 

Remove from oven, place two pizza flatbreads on a rack, allow to cool.

When cool top with sliced vine oak leaf lettuce, ripen tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto, sprinkle small amount of sea salt, fresh ground pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

*NOTE: If grilling, pre-heat grill to high heat. After stretching and right before placing dough on grill surface, brush heavy with olive oil.

 pizza dough on set  George Hirsch Lifestyle  TV series

pizza dough on set George Hirsch Lifestyle TV series

George's Pizza Dough

Makes enough for 2-3 pizzas

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

1 teaspoon active dry yeast 

1/4 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F) 

1 teaspoon sugar 

3 1/2 cups bread flour 

1/4teaspoon salt 

3/4 cup warm water 

1 Tablespoon olive oil 

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water. Add the sugar and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until small bubbles appear on the surface. 

Place 3 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and the water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, using the additional 1/2 cup flour if the dough is sticky. 

The dough is sufficiently kneaded when you can stick two fingers into it and it springs back without leaving an indentation. 

Cut the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough rest in an oiled bowl for 45-60 minutes. Lightly oil the top of each ball with the 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours. 

- Mixing with a mixer & dough hook: Mix for eight minutes at medium speed

- Mixing with a food processor: process for 40 seconds until smooth, add 1 additional Tablespoon of flour at a time until all of the flour is combined into the dough.

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George Hirsch Caprese Flatbread Pizza

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