In my opinion, brined turkeys offer the best choice in flavor for Thanksgiving dinner. I have eaten turkey many different ways – roasted, smoked, brined, and even deep fried. To me, the brined turkey has the best moisture and flavor combination. Although I do admit that a deep fried turkey is quite good as well! This year I am using a recipe I got from my aunt’s boyfriend. He’s a chef and an extremely good cook. Um, well duh! I guess you need to be a good cook if you want to have job security as a chef:)
I don’t have any pictures since I haven’t actually started the process, but I will update this post over the next few days to show what I have been doing.
You will need:
A Turkey:) – Start with a thawed or mostly thawed turkey
A vessel (Andy’s words) large enough to fit the turkey in – You will want something that is large enough to comfortably fit the bird in, but not so roomy that you have to make a ton of the brining solution. Ex: I’m using a turkey fryer pot. You could use a small cooler. A bathtub is probably too big:)
1 Gallon of Water
1 Cup of Salt
1/2 Cup of Sugar
Onions Chopped Into Large Chunks
Sliced Citrus – I’m using an orange, you could use lemons or something.
Herbs – I found a pack of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme. I think it was called “The Herbed Bird.”
Okay, so what you want to do is thaw, or mostly thaw your turkey in the refrigerator or using a water bath. Remove the bag from the turkey. Boil salt, sugar, and some of the onion in a gallon of water. Just boil it long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. By the way, the sugar is to balance out the saltiness of the brine. Cool the brine. Put the turkey into the vessel and pour the brine over it until the liquid completely covers it. Soak or marinate your turkey for 24-48 hours. Be sure to put the brining turkey in the refrigerator while it soaks. I do not have room, so I plan to keep my turkey in my canning shed with ice in it to keep it below the danger zone (45 degrees). Take the turkey out of the liquid and give it a quick rinse and dry it off. Peel back some of the skin and put some slices of butter underneath. This will give flavor and promote a crispy skin. Put the rest of the onion, some citrus slices, and herbs into the cavity of the turkey. Roast the turkey in your usual way, until the thickest part reaches 165 degrees. (I got a 20 pound turkey, so I will be probably looking at 3 1/2 hours on 375 degrees.) Let the bird rest for 30 minutes before carving.