It’s turkey time!!
How you cook your bird often comes down to personal preference AND the equipment you have on hand – roasted, brined, rotisserie, deep fried or smoked are common methods. We’ve tried a few different techniques over the years and like each for it’s own benefits. But, if you are looking for extra moist meat (and have a tendency to dry out your poultry), brining may be right for you.
Brining and marinating work in similar ways. A brine is a salty solution that the meat soaks in over the course of hours or days, allowing osmosis to work it’s magic and leave the muscle tissue engorged with moisture.
It’s always helpful (or necessary) to have an extra set of hands during the dunking and removing phase;-)
After the turkey has fulfilled it’s soak time, have extra veggies, fruits and herb stalks ready to stuff in the cavity. I like carrots, celery, onion, lemons, apples, thyme, rosemary and sage.
Creating an “herb paste” is an optional step, but I think it’s well worth it! Combining minced fresh herbs with sea salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil, and carefully placing between the skin and breast meat results in extra flavorful meat. Prepping fresh herbs, making the paste and stuffing the cavity are great ways to also get your kids involved and in the kitchen with you. The appreciation of real food that they get from being part of the process is invaluable.
- 1 gallon vegetable broth
- 1 cup sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. crushed dried rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. dried sage
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp. dried savory
- 1 gallon ice water
- Whole fresh turkey
- 2 - 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. dried sage (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
- 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary (or more fresh)
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme (or more fresh)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 - 2 lemons, quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 apple, quartered
- Fresh herb stalks (such as sage, thyme, rosemary)
- In a large stock pot, combine vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme and savory. Bring to boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket, or a large brining bag. Stir in the ice water.
- Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure to remove the innards. Place turkey breast side down into the brine, making sure the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket/bag in the refrigerator overnight (if using a bag, place a baking sheet underneath).
- Carefully remove the turkey, draining excess brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF - 350ºF.
- OPTIONAL: Carefully loosen the skin around the breast of the turkey by gently sliding your fingers between the skin and meat. Mix the olive oil, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spoon some of this mixture between the skin and meat of each breast and carefully spread within. Use remaining herb mixture to coat the outside of the turkey.
- Stuff the turkey cavity with fruits and veggies and any fresh herb stalks. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place turkey in a roasting pan.
- Cook according to size... and note that a brined turkey will cook a touch faster, so keep an eye on the temperature of the meat.
- Allow 15 to 20 minutes per pound for turkeys 7 to 15 lbs.
- Allow 13 to 15 minutes per pound for turkeys over 16 lbs.
Remember to baste every 30 minutes. Poultry should reach 165 to 175º before removing from the oven. Allow the turkey to sit for 20 minutes once removed from the oven and before carving.