Cooking with Alison

Roast Brined Turkey Recipe

In Poultry on April 18, 2011 at am

I brined a turkey for the first time for Christmas dinner, 2010.  Brining a turkey infuses the meat with flavour and moisture.  You can flavour the brine with any herbs and spices that you like.  Although frozen turkeys (that have been thawed out) can be used, I prefer to brine fresh turkeys.

I had originally planned on spending my holidays in flannel pyjamas drinking canned mushroom soup and eating cranberry sauce out of the can.  In bed.  But my favourite people, Ed and Krystal, inspired me to host Christmas.  So I invited the family for a few days and made them two [slightly healthier] traditional holiday feasts.  I’m really glad I did, because the food turned out wonderfully and with my surprise (my “new” dog – a first for our family), it turned out to be the best Christmas ever.

Brined and Roasted Turkey Recipe

adapted from Alton Brown

At least two days in advance, make the brine.  One day in advance, start brining the turkey.

for the brine:

4 or 5 apples, quartered

1 large onion, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

4 stalks celery, peeled and diced

3 thin slices of fresh ginger

several sprigs fresh thyme

a large handful of fresh parsley (leaves and stems)

2 dried bay leaves

10 whole peppercorns

2 smashed cloves of garlic, peeled

12 cups (4 L) of water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon whole allspice berries

Place everything Except for the salt, brown sugar, and allspice, into a large pot.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.  Stir every 30 minutes and skim off the froth from the surface of the broth.  Simmer covered for at least 5 hours.  When you are happy with the flavour of the broth, strain the stock and squeeze the juices out of the apples and vegetables before discarding.  Stir in the salt, light brown sugar, and whole allspice berries and bring to a boil.  Then remove from heat and cool completely.  If you’re not using the brine immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  The brine can also be made well in advance and frozen.

for the turkey:

1 (8 to 10 pound) fresh, naturally raised, young turkey

a few wide strips of orange zest

canola oil or vegetable oil

optional:  fresh sage leaves, fresh rosemary sprigs, and a few fresh cranberries for garnish

Note:  I like to prepare stuffing separately from the turkey.  This reduces the cooking time of the turkey, ensures a moister bird, and eliminates the risk of getting bacteria in the stuffing.  Once the turkey is cooked, has rested, and has been plated, I add the stuffing to the bird’s cavity (see photo above).

Place the turkey breast side down in the brine and add the orange peels.  If necessary, weigh down the turkey with a plate to ensure that it is fully immersed.  Cover the pot and refrigerate or let stand in a cool area for 24 hours.  Turn the turkey halfway through.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set the rack on the lowest level.  Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well (inside and out) with cold water, and discard the brine.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and coat the skin all over generously with oil.  Place it breast side up on a rack inside a roasting pan.  Tuck the wings in and add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan.  Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven, insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast, and roast until it reaches 161 degrees F, approximately 10 to 15 minutes per pound.  If you don’t have a probe thermometer, you can test the doneness of the turkey by using a sharp knife to pierce the turkey thigh.  If the juice runs clear, the turkey is cooked through.  Also notice that when the turkey is cooked through, the skin will be browned, crispy, and the meat will shrivel away from the ends of the leg and wing bones.  Transfer the turkey to a cooling rack over a large wooden board or plate.  Allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.  Meanwhile, use the pan drippings to make your gravy.
  1. Excellent post thanks for sharing. Food is something I can enjoy all around. If I’m not eating it. I’m reading and looking at pictures about it.

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