Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roasting Brine Turkey for the Holidays

I have taken on the role of Ye Royal Turkey Roaster for family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was not by accident... a few years ago, the Thanksgiving turkey was subjected to my mother-in-law's loving arms. Let's just say the bird wasn't the only one who regretted that choice.

Since that fateful day, I have taken over in ensuring that the center piece of the dinner table is blessed with a plump and juicy roaster that would be the envy of Martha Stewart!

I had some help - while channel surfing a few years ago, I came upon Food Network host Alton Brown using a brine solution to prep a turkey for roasting. Since I always cook a large Christmas dinner for the family, I gave it a shot... and it was a hit. That turkey had the juiciest and tastiest meat I'd ever eaten... and ALL of our guests were lined up to take a plate of it home after dinner.

With the guidance of this simple recipe, I've been putting the best turkey you've ever tasted on the table every Christmas since (and every Thanksgiving for the past 2 years).

Good Eats Roast Turkey
Courtesy of Food Network
  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

    For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sliced ginger root
  • 1 gallon iced water

    For the aromatics:
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1 large lemon, halved
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup water

  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage

  • 2 cups Canola oil

At least 24 hours before you plan to cook the turkey, combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, and allow enough time to cool the brine solution to room temperature.

At least 12 hours prior to cooking, line a clean 5-gallon bucket with a large plastic trash bag with a tie top. Combine the brine and iced water inside the trash bag. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, tie the bag tightly, and set in cool area (like a basement or refrigerator) until ready to cook. Turn turkey over once, 6 hours into brining.
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A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, lemon, onion, cinnamon sticks, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird (inside and outside) liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.

Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

* plezWorld has embellished and perfected this recipe over the years, this recipe is slightly different from the one on the Food Network site.

plez sez: get ready for the tastiest and juiciest turkey you've ever tasted!

...and of course plezWorld has you covered with a cornbread dressing recipe to compliment the world's best roasted turkey.

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Fergie said...

An intelligent dude in the kitchen brining a turkey...NOW THAT'S HOT!

plez... said...

Oh Fergie... you should see what i just did with the cornbread dressing... it'll make you wanna fight your momma! i'll probably post that recipe around Christmas.

Kelly said...

That sounds amazing!!!

plez... said...


i'll be throwing this year's bird in the brine on the morning of Christmas Eve... i'll be carving it around 2PM on Christmas day! *smile*


jenizvinik said...

magazines are full of holiday advice on how to prepare a turkey perfectly, by covering Turkey cheesecloth while cooking to rub Turkey with dried brine.These items are fantastic, the information you show us is interesting for everybody and is really good written. It's just great!
cheap holidays to turkey

awais said...

hmmm i have water in my mouth.. ha ha

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