I didn’t even like turkey before I discovered brining. Seriously. I thought turkey was over-rated and had no idea why millions of Americans made it each year. Then my brother-in-law Matt made a brined turkey for one Thanksgiving. I thought “well, this is a little better.” Then I found this recipe. We have turkey every year now.
Before anything else, the base of this recipe is from “Food & Wine.” Please visit them for slightly different instructions and wine pairing instructions.
Formalities out of the way: back to the delicious turkey. This is the BEST turkey I have ever had. It’s moist. Moist as in cut it, and juices literally run out. It’s flavorful. All the way down to the bone, not just on the surface. And it’s easy. No basting every 15 minutes, no baking on low for 6-8 hours. I’ve included step-by-step instructions- with pictures- on how to truss a turkey.
One of my favorite parts of making this dish? There is food for at least a week! No, not just eating turkey everyday. Literally a week worth of recipes that use your leftover turkey.
• We eat turkey for 1-2 days.
• I then use 16 oz. of chopped leftover turkey in “One-Pot Lemon Turkey Skillet.” The lemon and thyme in the dish gives it an entirely new twist.
• My “Chicken Pot Pie” calls for 1 lb. diced chicken…I just substitute turkey. The brine flavor makes it fantastic!
• I use the bones and any leftover turkey sticking to the bones to make 2 giant batches of “Homemade Turkey Broth“. If you have a 10-13 lb. turkey, do not make just 1 batch. The excess bones will turn it into gelatin broth. Yes, I know from personal experience.
Step-by-Step Brined Turkey
Apple Cider-Brined Turkey with Herb Butter
- 3 C . apple cider
- 1 green apple quartered
- 1/2 navel orange
- 2 Tbsp . coriander seeds
- 2 Tbsp . fennel seeds
- 4 tarragon sprigs
- 1 medium bunch of thyme
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- 8 leaves sage
- 1 Tbsp . whole allspice berries
- 2 cloves whole
- 1 Tbsp . whole black peppercorn
- 2 C light brown sugar
- 1 C kosher salt
- 10 lb . whole turkey
- 3 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 Tbsp & 1/2 . thyme chopped
- 1 Tbsp & 1/2 . parsley chopped
- 1 Tbsp . chives chopped
- 1 Tbsp . sage chopped
- 1 Tbsp . salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Mise en place. (Especially all the spices). In a pot, combine all the brine ingredients (except for the turkey) and 4 C. of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Remove from heat and add 12 C. cold water (in a container large enough to hold liquid and turkey). Let stand until cool. Add the turkey and refrigerate for 12-24 hrs.
- Set a rack over a baking sheet. Remove turkey from brine and place on rack. Pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate it uncovered for 12 hrs.
- When ready to cook. Make herb butter: blend all ingredients except salt and pepper. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
- Remove turkey from refrigerator. Clean baking sheet. Place turkey back on rack. Gently separate the turkey skin from the breast meat. Spread 1/2-3/4 of butter mix under the skin. Spread the rest over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper over turkey. Truss.
- Bake 3 to 3 & 1/2 hrs., until thigh is 180° and breast meat is 165°, covering turkey partway through (to prevent over-browning).
- Let rest at least 15 min. before serving.