To brine or not to brine? That is the ongoing question I have people ask me about cooking a turkey. Well here is your answer, I am a briner. I have prepared turkeys both brined and not. While I am no professional chef I would consider my self very versed in eating. I personally think brined turkeys come out with more flavor and are more moist than that of a turkey that is not brined. Some of you may be asking, “what the heck is brining?”
Brining is the process of soaking your turkey in a salt (and sometimes herb) infused bath for several hours prior to cooking. I find that your bird will be more evenly flavored and it will also be the moistest bird you ever have.
I make an awesome citrus herb rub (see recipe below) for my turkey. It is flavor packed and will make all your dinner guests ohhhh and ahhhh. The orange zest is not overpowering at all. It actually is a really nice complement to all the other flavors of a thanksgiving dinner. Trust me. I know how to make a delicious turkey.
Notes: Do not brine your turkey if it is self basting, pre seasoned, or kosher. If you do not have a pan that is large enough you may use an oversized bowl, ice chest, or even a baking bag tied off. The key is that the bird is completely submerged.
1 c kosher salt
2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp pepper
STEPS FOR BRINING
- Find a large pot that will hold your turkey making sure you have at least an inch or two of room at the top.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in your pot.
- Add the salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
- Remove the pan from heat and add in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper.
- Place the pot in your sink (this will help in case any liquid overflows).
- Remove all of the giblets and neck from your turkey and gently lower it into the pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid or saran wrap.
- Place the pot in the fridge and marinade for 12–16 hours.
- Rinse the turkey and pat dry.
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 oranges, zested and quartered
1 c butter, softened
1 brined turkey
STEPS FOR TURKEY
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- In a small bowl combine the garlic, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, orange zest, and butter and mix until well combined.
- Starting from the neck of the turkey, carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers.
- Push about half of the herbed butter mixture under the skin and spread it out evenly. (Don’t be afraid really get it all over in there! The butter will melt and all those yummy flavors will just seep into the meat.)
- Use the other half of the mixture to evenly cover the top and sides of the turkey.
- Place the orange quarters inside the turkey’s cavity.
- Place the seasoned turkey in a roasting pan and loosely cover with foil.
- Roast the turkey for 20–23 minutes per pound and baste every 45 minutes. (Note: If you are running out of juices in the pan just add some chicken broth or cubes of butter.)
- Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
- When the temperature in the meatiest part of the turkey reaches 165º remove it from oven and allow it to rest for 25–30 minutes.
- Carve and gobble up.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!