Sage-Brined Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing

New York City chef Jonathan Waxman gave us this recipe for a sage-infused roast turkey with a dressing that brims with wild rice, hazelnuts, and oysters.

Ingredients

  • 3⁄4 cup kosher salt, plus more
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 40 sprigs fresh sage, plus 1⁄4 cup minced fresh sage
  • 20 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3  bay leaves
  • 1 12–14-lb. turkey
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, plus more
  • 2 Vidalia onions, minced
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 5 oz. bacon, cut into 1⁄4″ strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint shucked oysters with juices
  • 4 cups 1⁄2″-cubed bread, toasted
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 cup crushed, toasted hazelnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 medium onion, quartered

Directions

  1. Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Stir in 3⁄4 cup salt and sugar until dissolved. Add sage sprigs, thyme, and bay leaves. Pour salt mixture into a clean 5-gallon bucket or pot. Add 18 cups cold water; let cool. Add turkey to brine; refrigerate overnight.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 4-qt. pot over medium- high heat. Add half the Vidalia onions; cook, stirring, until soft, 8–10 minutes. Stir in rices, add wine, and cook until reduced by half, 3–4 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low; cook, covered, until rice is tender, 40–45 minutes. Spread rice on an oiled rimmed baking sheet; let cool slightly.
  3. Heat oven to 425°. Cook bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 10–12 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels; return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining Vidalia onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add oysters and 1⁄4 cup of their juices; cook for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer oyster mixture to a large bowl along with rice, bacon, bread, half the butter, the minced fresh sage, and hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper; mix. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with 1 tbsp. butter; mound dressing in baking dish. Dot dressing with remaining butter; cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Refrigerate dressing.
  5. Reduce oven to 350°. Drain turkey and pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper; rub with remaining oil.
  6. Stuff cavity with celery and onions; tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine. Set turkey, breast side down, on rack inside a roasting pan. Roast turkey for 1 1⁄2 hours. Using paper towels, turn turkey breast side up; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh reads 160°, about 2 hours more. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  7. While turkey is resting, raise oven heat to 475°. Remove dressing from refrigerator, uncover, and bake until browned, 20–30 minutes. Carve turkey and serve with dressing.

SERVES 10–12

Pairing note: Berry-scented Littorai Les Larmes Pinot Noir 2008 ($38), from California’s Anderson Valley, pairs well with this herbaceous roast.

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