One of the most frequently asked questions here at Art Culinaire: Can you fit the big Thanksgiving turkey in the Cluny oven? The answer: YES!
I went shopping for the biggest turkey I could find, bringing a 20 pounder into the showroom for the Cluny experiment; the record from our staff is 26 pounds! With plenty of room to spare, I brined the turkey with lots of love and sugar, using a recipe from the Thanksgiving issue of the Food Network Magazine. After the overnight brine and a 3 hour roast in the compact gas oven, my bird and came out as crispy, juicy evidence that the Cluny is truly a wonder when it comes to preparing the holiday meal.
Classic Herb Turkey with Orange-Tea-Bourbon Brine:
1 fresh or frozen turkey (1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person)
Zest (in wide strips) and juice of 5 oranges
1 cup sugar
12 black tea bags
4 bay leaves
1 cup bourbon
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Dried thyme and sage
Fill a large pot with 2 quarts water; add the orange zest, orange juice, 2 cups kosher salt, the sugar, black tea bags, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and bourbon. Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes. Add 4 quarts cold water and let cool. Submerge the turkey in the brine, adding water to cover, if necessary. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the turkey from the brine; rinse and pat dry. Mix 2 sticks softened butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 tablespoon dried sage and thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 tablespoon paprika. and 1/8 tablespoon ground cloves.
Put the oven rack in the lowest position; preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan, tucking the wing tips under. Tie the drumsticks together with twine. Roast until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 15 minutes per pound. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving.