11/26/13

My family’s favorite brined turkey recipe

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Even my Mother-In-Law said this was the best turkey she’d ever had.

High praise, indeed!

I gotta say, if given a choice I will never, NEVER serve another turkey (or chicken) that has not been brined. The improvement in moistness, flavor, and general “cook-ability” makes it a no-brainer.

The aromatics make a huge difference as well. My wife had made it clear that the testing is over, THIS is our Thanksgiving turkey recipe from now on, and no modifications are allowed!

Aromatic Brined Turkey

* 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
* 1 cup kosher salt
* 1 cup of honey
* 1 quart turkey stock
* 1 quart boiling water
* 2 tablespoon black pepper
* 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
* 1 gala apple, sliced
* 2 med Asian pears, sliced
* 1 orange, peeled and sliced
* 1 sweet onion, sliced
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 cup water
* 4 sprigs rosemary
* 6 leaves sage
* Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:

  • Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
  • Combine the stock, water, salt, honey, and pepper in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil.
  • Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:

  • Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  • Place the bird on roasting rack, breast up, inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Combine the apple, pears, orange, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  • Roast the turkey, breast up, on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes, watching closely as it browns. Flip and insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 155 degrees F.
  • A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 hours of roasting.
  • Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 30-45 minutes before carving.