What’s Cooking?: Thanksgiving Turkey

  • Serves

    serves 10-12


The flick presents four multicultural Los Angeles families who create and consume the quintessential American Thanksgiving meal. As in this brined turkey recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kapser, the movie had depth of flavor and surprisingly pleasant tartness.


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 10–12-lb. turkey
  • 2 lb. mixed chicken legs and thighs
  • 1 cup kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 12 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 5 yellow onions
  • 39 cloves garlic
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery ribs with leaves
  • 12 cup calvados (apple brandy), plus 4 teaspoons
  • 6 12 cups dry white wine
  • 13 packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 13 cup ground ancho chile powder
  • 813 cup fresh apple cider
  • 6 granny smith apples
  • 2 lightly packed cups fresh basil leaves, plus 8 leaves for garnish
  • 4 tbsp. softened butter
  • 14 cup flour


Step 1

The broth for the gravy may be made up to 3 days in advance. Lightly coat the bottom of a 12" skillet with extra-virgin olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add the neck and giblets from the turkey and mixed chicken legs and thighs; season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides; transfer to a 6-quart pot. Pour half of the fat out of the skillet; heat over medium-high. Stir in 2 chopped yellow onions, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 whole cloves, 1 chopped carrot, and 1 chopped celery rib with leaves and cook until just browned, 12–14 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add 1⁄4 cup of the calvados and 2 cups of the wine. Return to heat, bring to a boil, and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the 6-quart pot of meat. Add enough water to cover the mixture to a depth of 1"; bring to a slow simmer. Partially cover and cook, without stirring, for 4–5 hours. (Add more water as necessary to keep solids covered.) Remove from heat, let cool, strain (as shown), and refrigerate broth. You should have about 12 cups.

Step 2

A day before serving, brine the turkey, calculating 1 hour of brining for each pound. In a large plastic brining bag or stockpot, combine 1 cup of the salt, brown sugar, and chile powder. Put 2 cups of the cider, 35 cloves garlic, and 4 unpeeled, cored, and coarsely chopped granny smith apples into a food processor and purée. Add purée to the brining bag along with 6 cups of the cider and 4 quarts cold water. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar.

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