Years ago, I had found an incredible recipe for a brined roast turkey that sounded delicious. I had brined chicken and pork before but never turkey until now. But before I impart to you the recipe, let me first share a little story.
I remember the time I had made this roast turkey for my brother and his family. It was about five years ago on Christmas. We had taken a trip to visit them in New York. They wanted to have a turkey for Christmas dinner and I suggested that we brine it. They are always “game” (ha, ha – get it? Turkey? Game?) for new recipes so away to the store we went for the ingredients. They had gotten all the fixin’s and the turkey already, all we needed were a few spices.
When we returned, they pulled out this freakin' Godzilla sized turkey. I knew we would have to use some ingenuity on this one. It definitely was not going to fit back in the refrigerator in the brine. I told my brother it was no problem. We will just make up the brine, submerge the turkey in it, place the whole mixture in a clean portable cooler, and set it outside on the patio until we are ready to cook it. (By the way, the temperature outside was sub zero.)Well, needless to say they absolutely loved the brined roast turkey and have made it that way since. The cooler idea worked great, and I have done it this way since then. (A clean 5 gallon bucket would do just as nicely also.)
A Little Chemistry About Brining:
“Brine” is simply defined as, “water saturated or nearly saturated with salt.” The science of brining meat is very simple. All meat contains salt water and by submerging it into a liquid that has a much higher concentration of salt, the brine mixture is absorbed into the meat.When you add spices to the brine it is carried into the meat, flavoring it, as well as adding extra moisture to the meat which makes it extra juicy when served.
A very simple basic brine you can use for any meat is as follows: 1 gallon of water to 1 cup of kosher salt. The spices you prefer to add are up to you. Be imaginative and enjoy the most flavorful, juicy meat you’ve ever had.
Brine: (The following brine is based upon a recipe by Alton Brown)
Vegetable Stock – 1 gallon
Brown Sugar – ½ cup
Kosher Salt – 1 cup
Peppercorns (black) – 1 tablespoon
Allspice Berries – 1 tablespoon
Candied Ginger – 1 tablespoon
Iced Water – 1 gallon
Turkey – 16 pounds
Aromatics for Inside the Turkey:
Apple (your favorite)– 1 sliced
Onion (white)– 1 sliced
Cinnamon Stick – 1
Water – 1 cup boiling
Rosemary – 4 sprigs
A. Do this the day before you are going to have the turkey.
1. In a large stockpot combine together all brine ingredients. Bring this mixture to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt.
2. Remove the brine mixture from the heat and let cool.
3. Once the brine is room temperature mix it with the iced water into a container large enough to hold the brine and the turkey.
4. Place the thawed turkey into the brine, cover and refrigerate or set in a cold area for a minimum of eight hours, preferably overnight.
5. Turn the turkey over once during the brining to ensure the entire bird gets flavored up.B. The day of the roasting.
1. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse with water inside and out.
2. Throw away the brine.
3. Preheat the oven for 500 degrees.
4. In the meanwhile, combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and water in a measuring cup and let steep for at least five minutes.
5. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan and add the aromatics and the rosemary.6. Using a basting brush, coat the entire turkey with canola oil.
Oneida 17x14x3-in. Nonstick Roasting Pan with Rack
7. Roast on the lower level in your oven for thirty minutes at 500 degrees.8. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with aluminum foil. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and return the turkey to the oven.
9. Using a instant read thermometer roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (This should take about 2 to 3 hours.)10. Once done, let the turkey rest for 10 – 15 minutes, covered loosely with an aluminum foil tent before carving.
Now you are ready with your brined turkey to dine and shine!