Perfectly Brined Turkey

19 Nov

Road voyage to Atlanta, complete!

Now that we’re here, it’s time to get to steppin’ with our storied Thanksgiving Menu.

I’ve already been crowned the victor of one turkey opponent so far this year …

A warrior goes to work. The amount of things I already had done by 8:34am is sheer insanity.

Each year we name our Friendsgiving bird, and this time around Turkey Thurman truly delivered.

The key to our rave reviews? We have become turkey brining professionals!

Why brine a turkey?

Brining involves soaking meat in a high salt solution for several hours before cooking. This allows the meat to take in lots of moisture, which it then retains during the cooking process, leading to extremely tender and flavorful turkey. And we all know turkey gets a bad wrap for turning out dry and bland.

As everyone out there carefully crafts their menu masterpieces, here are is a homerun brining recipe for your digestive pleasure!

{Barely adapted from this recipe – brine for a 12 to 14 lb bird}

1 C. salt (I just used sea salt)
1 gallon vegetable broth
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 TBSP black peppercorns
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
1 gallon ice water

And for the aromatics, roasted inside the bird for even more flavor:

1 red apple, quartered
1 onion, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1 C. water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
butter, as you see fit

Sometime on Tuesday, you can begin the brining process.

In a large pot, combine all ingredients except ice water.  Heat over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally to dissolve solids and bringing to a boil.

Then remove brine from the heat, let cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator.

Sometime on Wednesday (I like to begin the evening beforehand), combine brine and ice water in a large cooler. Place your thawed turkey, innards removed, breast side down in the cooler. Cover and refrigerate if you like (ours was too large and it was fine left in a cooler with plenty of ice). We like to flip our turkey in the brine every so often.

Let turkey soak for 8-16 hours.

When you’re ready, remove turkey and rinse very well with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Throw away the brine.

Now, prepare to stuff your turkey with the aromatics. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place turkey breast side up in the pan you’ll roast it in. I like to use a large disposable aluminum tray for easy disposal.

Combine apple, cinnamon, onion and water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. When finished, add contents of dish to turkey cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck wings under bird.

Here’s my Paula Deen moment: I like to get butter on my fingers and rub it all over the bird’s body, getting my hands up under its skin. I’ll make sure to cover all surfaces between meat and skin with butter. I know this is healthy living blog, but come on, this is Thanksgiving.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of oven for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Insert a probe thermometer and roast until temperature reads 161 degrees F at its thickest part. Should be a total of 2-2.5 hours for a 12 to 14 lb bird. Cover with aluminum foil if the bird’s skin starts to burn.

Let turkey rest for 15 minutes before carving. Ask someone else how to carve because I seriously don’t know the first thing about that business.

It’s a lengthy process, but SO well worth it!

Have you ever tried brining a turkey?

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