Roast Turkey, Thanksgiving Cook-Along

Here we are – at the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving Cook-Along! So we’re all after that turkey from the commercials, the one where the juices run down at first carve amirite? You can see them above, pooling at the bottom of the slice. That turkey can, and will be yours, as long as you take an extra step and brine it. I’m using a chicken for this tutorial, because quite frankly I’d be eating turkey for a solid month otherwise and I just don’t have that strong a constitution.

I’ve been tinkering with this brine recipe for a while and I’m pretty happy with it. The one odd item you’ll need is a sparkling clean five-gallon pail, or some other vessel large enough to hold your bird plus a refrigerated space to store it. Fresh turkeys are the best, and now would be a good time to order one, if you haven’t done it already. This will also improve a frozen bird if that’s all you can get.

Roast Turkey, Brined

1 gal. water

1 c. kosher salt

1 chopped apple

1 t. juniper berries

1 t. cracked pepper

1 t. minced garlic

1 t. rosemary

1 t. thyme

2 bay leaves

1 fresh turkey, washed with giblets removed

Heat everything in a large pot on low.

When the salt is dissolved, set the brine aside to cool.

Completely immerse your turkey in the brine and refrigerate for at least six  hours (and up to overnight).  Set your oven to 375, convection (if you have that option). Lightly stuff (sage dressing recipe here) your bird, if you choose to go that route. I think helps season the meat. If you skip it your turkey will roast faster, so be aware of that.

Add an 1″ of water to the pan and put it in the oven. Check it at the end of the first hour.

You will notice that the heat has set the thin brine coating all over the bird, sealing in the juices. If it seems to be browning too quickly cover it.

Turn the convection off and finish roasting at 375. I typically figure on 20 minutes per pound. Roast to an internal temp of 165, then remove it from the oven so it can rest for 20-25 minutes before carving.

I left this one covered. You can take the cover off for the last 30 minutes if you want it darker.

See the juices on that bottom slice? The magic of brining!

Once  you’ve had a brined turkey you’ll be a believer – it’s so worth the trouble!


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