Over the years I've prepped turkey a lot of different ways: salt encased, syringe injected, maple coated, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day nothing beats brining the bird. Immersion in a salt solution goes a long way toward achieving the juiciness everyone oohs and aahs about.
You can play with different brine ingredients, but in the end it comes down to liquid, salt, sugar and some spices. Experiment with various choices for liquid and spices. But know this, of all the times I've made brines, the choice among stock, water, apple cider or whatever, usually only makes the subtlest of differences. So don't sweat the details too much.
Today's recipe is from Alton Brown's "Good Eats" television show on the Food Network. This recipe has never failed us! So if you're nervous, follow it to the letter and you'll be OK. If you're adventurous, have at it, though I strongly suggest keeping the proportions the same. It means brining the bird early on Thanksgiving, but it's definitely worth it, please enjoy...
Good Eats Brined Roast Turkey
from "Good Eats" by Alton Brown
1 (14 to 16 pound) young turkey, (if frozen, full thaw)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon ice water
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (at least 6 hours before you start cooking), combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement or garage) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes, (I often skip this part, I just don't think it adds that much flavor).
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, dry very well with paper towels. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
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 1/2 to 3 hours of roasting, (Brown says 2 to 2 1/2 hours, my 14 pounders are rarely ready before three hours). Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
While turkey is resting, prepare your gravy.
That's it crablings. The attached pictures are of a turkey breast I prepared a while ago. It takes some work ahead of time, but then there's a lot of standing around sipping wine until the panic of gravy. All in all, it's a very easy recipe.
Remember crablings, you can do it you can cook. On Monday I'll post a plan for the big day.