Let’s talk turkey… Okay, my fabulous foodie friends! The holidays are almost here and I wanted to share with you an exceptionally tasty brine for your turkey. For a moist and delicious turkey, marinate your fresh bird overnight in a brine of fresh herbs, lemon, sea salt and a water. When you add aromatics like herbs and lemon to the brine, the bird is infused with extra delicious flavor. Here’s how to prepare a perfect roast turkey (brined or not) for your next Thanksgiving feast, and a great stuffing recipe too!
For the perfect roast turkey:
- 1 brining bag or huge pot
- 1 large roasting pan
- 1 fresh turkey (I used 20 lb. turkey)
- brine, ingredients below (optional)
- 1/2 stick butter or 1/2 cup olive oil
- Place rack on lowest level in oven and pre-heat to 325 degrees.
- Tuck the wing tips under the body of the bird, and place turkey breast-side-down in a roasting pan. Season inside of bird with salt and pepper, and stuff with a few cloves of garlic, a lemon (sliced in half) and/or an onion for more flavor. I like to toss in some herbs, an onion, a few carrots and a couple of celery stalks to flavor the pan drippings (for soup or gravy after). I don’t “stuff” my birds. Most people prefer the “crispy stuffing”, so I do it on the side, using a buttered casserole dish.
- * Click here for my classic stuffing recipe
- Cover the bird tightly with foil and bake at 325* for about 2 hours (for a 15-20 lb. turkey) or using “The Rule” go 10 minutes per pound, you do the math.Remove the foil (save it for later) very carefully flip the bird over (breast side up and brush your turkey with the melted butter to give your bird a rich, beautiful brown color. Insert a meat thermometer (if you have one) in a thigh. Place the bird back in the oven and cook another hour, basting every 15-20 minutes. For a crispy brown skin, crank your oven up to 425 cook until the thermometer reaches 170 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, use the ”old school method”, see if the legs wiggle free and easy and the juices inside and outside the bird run clear. If in doubt, cover it back up and put it back in the oven on 325* until it’s done.
For the brine:
- 2 gallons cold water
- 3 cups apple juice or apple cider
- 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 4 tablespoons of fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Kosher or sea salt
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons peppercorns (I used the 3 pepper medley)
- 6 whole bay leaves
- 3 lemons (zested and sliced)
- 3 oranges (peeled)
- Combine all ingredients above (except the turkey) in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
- After it cools completely, pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in the brine, refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. You can use a cooler full of ice. We put our turkey outside in the cold (below 40 degrees)
- To roast your turkey, remove the turkey from the brine. Fill your kitchen sink with clean, fresh cold water, and rinse well for 10-15 minutes to remove most of the salt. Throw the brine out.
- Remove the turkey from the water, pat it dry with paper towels, and bake away! (see above)