Chef John Ash’s Roast Turkey Recipe

Brining and slow roasting is the key to this perfect Wine Country Thanksgiving turkey recipe

Chef John Ash’s brined and roasted turkey is a traditional, yet tasty way to make your Thanksgiving memorable.

Roast Turkey  Recipe- Chef John Ash

Chef John Ash's brined and roasted turkey is a traditional, yet tasty way to make your Thanksgiving memorable.
Chef John Ash’s brined and roasted turkey is a traditional, yet tasty way to make your Thanksgiving memorable.

Every family has a turkey recipe, but usually — let’s be honest — you still end up with a dry, overcooked bird. And that’s not something to give much thanks for.

To help home cooks, many well-meaning chefs have suggested uniqued alternatives (from deep fat frying to barbecuing) that promise the ultimate turkey. They’re novel, but in my opinion, the best route is brining and roasting.  Chef John Ash does a great version with a flavorful soy sauce, maple syrup and ginger brine to give the bird some pep, then a long, slow roast to really bring out the flavor.

Try out this roast turkey recipe from his James Beard Award-winning book, Culinary Birds, The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook. I think you’ll really like it. Be sure to let me know what you think!

Roast Turkey
From Chef John Ash



2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup pure maple syrup

¾ cup coarse salt

3 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and bruised

6 large bay leaves

1 ½ cups coarsely chopped unpeeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes

1 ½ cups soy sauce

3 quarts water



12 to 14 pound dressed fresh turkey

3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

5 celery stalks, roughly chopped

2 potatoes, roughly chopped

2 oranges, quartered

4 lemons, quartered

3 cups canned or homemade turkey or chicken stock



3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

White wine or brandy

2 cups canned or homemade turkey or chicken stock

Fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and sage

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper




Combine all brine ingredients in a large enamel or stainless steel stockpot that is large enough to hold the brine and the turkey. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Rinse the turkey well; remove the neck and giblets and save for stock or discard.

Submerge the turkey in the cooled brine. Be sure there is enough brine to cover the bird. In not, add water to cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 4. Turn the bird in the brine twice a day.

Remove the bird from the brine and pay dry. Lightly brush the bird with olive oil and set aside for at least an hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees. Set the turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack. Throw the chopped vegetables and citrus in the cavity. Add the chicken or turkey stock to the pan. Slip a flavored butter up under the skin of the turkey if you want.

Cook the turkey for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350-degrees. Roast for 21/2 to 3 hours. It’s done when juice from the thigh runs clear and an instant-read thermometer reads 165-degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone.

Remove from the oven. Lift the turkey out of the pan and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Don’t wrap tightly or the skin will lose its crispness. Let the turkey rest at least 25 minutes before carving.

To make the gravy: Pour off all fat from the roasting pan, leaving the delicious browned bits in the bottom. Make a roux by whisking the butter in the roasting pan over moderate heat with the flour. Continue to whisk for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of white wine or brandy and scrape up the browned bits. Add the stock and any herbs you like and continue to whisk and simmer for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the gravy along side the carved meat.


2 thoughts on “Chef John Ash’s Roast Turkey Recipe

  1. Sounds good if a bit too sweet for my taste, but will try brining for the first time. However, what is missing is a good stuffing. I suggest the following: bread that has gone somewhat hard (good French bread?) chopped in small pieces, onion (slightly browned), celery, cut up orange peel, cut up tried apricot bits, raisons, and perhaps other dried fruit, and the fresh squeezed orange juice to moisten, salt, and herbs (I use the a combination of oregano and thyme. Then I stuff the bird, but don’t jam it in.
    And since my daughter is vegetarian and a guest or two is also, I also bake the dressing making sure it is moist with orange juice and a vegetarian cube for a cup of broth. Then I cover with tinfoil.

    I realize I haven’t given exact proportions, but those who enjoy cooking will figure it out..leave room for the artist, I say.

    1. I chose an 18 lb. Diestel Turkey from Sonora this year which I had deboned by the butcher.. And I opened my favorite cook book – “Culinary Birds” by Chef John Ash. I ran out of time for the brining but stuffed the carcus with all the apples, veggies, and citrus in the recipe. At 160 degrees, I pulled it from the oven and in 30 minutes it was on the table. My son-in-law had never carved a deboned turkey and was amazed at the process. Slices like a roast. But wondered where the dark meat was. We had stuffing and potatoes and gravy on the side. It was perfect. Somehow a thigh was hidden and we are enjoying this and other leftovers tonight. I would definitely use this recipe again and brining this time.

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