Five years ago my life was forever changed when my wise cooking instructor Tony introduced me to the wonderful world of brined turkey. Brined turkey is extremely moist and loaded with flavor! The white meat is just as moist as the dark meat. Even when you warm up the left over turkey a few days later, it is still moist. Seriously, it’s magical!
What does a brine do you ask? The brine solution traps all the moisture inside the turkey so that when you roast the turkey, it can’t escape. You know how there is usually a lot of liquid in the bottom of your roasting pan when you pull your cooked turkey out of the oven, well guess what, that is all the precious juice that should stay in the turkey to keep it moist. The the beauty of brining the turkey is that the brine solution attaches itself to the water molocules in the turkey and doesn’t allow it to seep out during the roasting process.
Tony, also introduced me to Alton Brown’s from Good Eats Turkey Brine Method. If you have never heard of Alton Brown, do yourself a favor and Google him. He is a food genius! If brining a turkey sounds very overwhelming to you, watch Alton’s YouTube video. He explains the brining process very well.
If there is one thing that I can emphasize for this Thanksgiving season, it is to take the extra time to brine your turkey. You will be so grateful that you did! I promise you, that once you have brined turkey, you will never want it any other way!
With love from my kitchen to yours,
How to Brine a Turkey
12-16 lb. turkey
2 quarts of apple cider
2 quarts of vegetable broth
1 1/3 cup of Kosher salt
1 cup of brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. of clove berries
1 tbsp. of black peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp. of candied ginger (I buy mine at Target)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 gallon of heavily iced water
peels of 2 large oranges
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
3- 4 tbsps. of canola oil
1. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, combine the vegetable stock, apple cider, kosher salt, brown sugar, clove berries, peppercorns, bay leaves, candied ginger, garlic, and orange peels. Stir occasionally to break up solids and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the brine from the heat. Cover and bring the brine to room temperature.
2. Remove all the innards from the thawed turkey. Place the brine and ice water in a 5 gallon bucket or large brining bag. Place the turkey breast side down in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the turkey with a small pot or bowl to keep it submerged in the brine. Place in refrigerator for overnight or up to 16 hours. Turn the turkey over once half way through the brining process.
3. When ready to roast the turkey, place the top oven rack on the lowest level in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse the outside and inside with cold water. Pat dry the turkey with a paper towel. Discard the brine.
4. Place a roasting rack inside a baking sheet or large roasting pan and place the turkey on top of the roasting rack. Place the orange, onion, apples, and cinnamon sticks inside the turkey. Rub the canola oil all over the turkey. In the thickest part of the turkey, insert a probe thermometer.
5. Roast the turkey until it reaches 161 degrees. It takes about 20 minutes per pound. Once the turkey has reached 161 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven. Cover the turkey loosely with tin foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe.