Ok, I'm not going to officially enter the contest because I don't have a picture of this, and I don't have time to figure out how to set up a link to some other page, but I just finished off the last of my Thanksgiving turkey using this recipe and it may be the most delicious bird I have ever eaten. EVER!! This recipe can easily be sized down for a chicken, and would be an especially good choice for an older cockerel that you still want to roast, instead of the usual crock pot, stew, or slow simmer stovetop in wine or tomato to tenderize the bird. For this recipe I used a 32 month old Blue Slate tom turkey, one of the heritage breeds. He had spent his entire life free ranging, which certainly contributed to the flavor, but also adds some toughness compared to confinement raised birds. This recipe ensured that he wasn't tough, and the breast down roast provided very moist white meat. However, turkeys do not toughen up as much with age as chickens do, so I'm not sure if this would be adequate tenderization for a 32 month old rooster, but almost certainly enough for a 9-10 month old cockerel.
Modified from combining these two sites, and my own techniques
SYDNEY ACRES BUTTERMILK-BRINED TURKEY
Soaking the turkey in a saltwater brine produces tender, juicy meat. In this recipe my brine mixture also includes buttermilk, which adds flavor to the turkey and helps keep the meat moist. Ideal for heritage turkeys, especially older birds.
1 1/2 cups turkey brine (see ingredient list below)*
1 quart water
4-8 quarts buttermilk, as needed to cover turkey adequately
1 fresh turkey, 16 to 18 lb., neck, heart and gizzard removed (reserved, if desired) (use less ingredients for a smaller bird or a chicken)
salt and pepper
2-3 cups apple cider (I use Martinelli's sparkling cider)
1 cup olive oil
7-10 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. dried rosemary
2 tbsp. dried rubbed sage
2 tbsp. dried Mexican oregano
2 tbsp. dried thyme
In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the turkey brine and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until the large salt crystals in brine dissolves, 5 to 10 minutes. Let the brine mixture cool to room temperature. In a large pot, stir together the brine mixture and buttermilk.
Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water, drain, pat dry, and place in a large brining bag (my older tom was too big for my largest brining bag -- I used a new contractor's grade trash bag because it's what I had available at the moment, but a food grade plastic bag would be better). Carefully pour the buttermilk brine mixture into the bag. Seal the bag, pressing out the air, and place in a large stockpot or other container large enough to hold the turkey (I used a spare roasting pan). Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours, turning occasionally.
Place the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add garlic and onion, and heat until simmering gently for 5 minutes. Add last 4 spices and continue to heat gently for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Remove the turkey from the brine; discard the brine. Thoroughly rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off and discard the excess fat, if desired. Paint all surfaces, inside and out, with olive oil mixture, then lightly salt and pepper to taste. Place the turkey, breast side DOWN, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Truss the turkey as desired using kitchen twine. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450°F. Place turkey in oven and add apple cider to bottom of roasting pan (not over turkey).
Roast the turkey for 30 - 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and cover turkey with aluminum foil. After about 2 hours of total roasting time, begin testing for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone. Check every 30 minutes until the juices run clear and the temperature is 150-155 degrees F for heritage turkeys, or 165-170 degrees F for broad breasted turkeys and chickens. (See Mary's Turkey link for typical roasting times) (NOTE: if roasting a chicken, smaller turkey, or other bird smaller than 16 pounds, adjust cooking time down to avoid overcooking.)
Remove turkey from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes (or longer) before carving. Resting prevents the juices from draining out at carving and maintains a moist meat.
Use the pan drippings for your favorite gravy recipe, or separate the oil layer from the water based layer and use each separately. I separate them and use the water based layer as a thin gravy and the oil based layer as a flavored oil over veggies or in other dishes.
*Turkey Brine (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/williams-sonoma-turkey-brine/?pkey=e%7Cturkey%2Bautumn%2Bbrine%7C1%7Cbest%7C0%7Cviewall%7C24%7C%7C1&group=1&sku=6352645&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH)
"Williams Sonoma" Turkey Brining Blend, Apples and Spice (This mix has been recreated based on ingredient list and picture. Actual WS product may be slightly different.)
3/4 cup sea salt (large granules)
4 tbsp. dried apples, chopped (can substitute whole golden raisins if desired)
3 tbsp. whole juniper berries
2 tbsp. dried lemon peel
2 tbsp. star anise, broken
2 tsp dried garlic flakes
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp whole peppercorns
4 small bay leaves, broken
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Use in above recipe.