Brining and roasting a whole turkey can seem overwhelming but it’s actually really easy. This simple overnight brine adds a lot of flavor and assists to maintain a moist and succulent turkey.
I used to be against the brine, I am not even sure why. It might be because the thought of brining a turkey in a huge pot or cooler just freaked me out. You know, germs, salmonella, etc. But, this year is the year of the brine. After brining a handful of turkey’s this year, I don’t think I will be going back to the un-brined-turkey-dark-side. Brining is so easy and really does add so much. I have also found that I can use a lot less added oil (or butter) to the skin and the turkey still stays moist. Thanks brine!
And after all is said is done, you get one (or more) fabulous meals of roasted turkey plus the carcass which you NEED TO USE to make my Turkey Barley Soup. This is the real prize, trust me.
- This recipe is for an overnight brine. If you want to brine the turkey the day of cooking, double the amount of salt and sugar and brine for 4 to 6 hours.
- I don’t bother to baste the turkey, mostly because I am too lazy to be bothered with attending to the oven every 20 minutes for 3 hours but also because it doesn’t really matter since we don’t eat the skin. The purpose of basting is to get a beautiful, golden, crispy skin. The constant basting doesn’t provide additional moisture or flavor to the turkey meat and if anything, prolongs cooking time since every time you open the door to baste, you lose heat from the oven.
EDITED RECIPE 11/21/2012 to add rinsing the bird! I can’t believe I left that out!
- 10 pound natural turkey
- 2 gallons water (8 quarts)
- 12 cloves garlic (divided)
- 2 shallots, cut in half
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare Turkey for brining; remove gizzards, heart, and neck. Gross picture alert: Always check both cavities for parts as some butchers / processors put packets in both ends. Set aside for gravy or discard.
- Thoroughly wash turkey inside and out. Place in a very large stock pot or other container that will hold the volume of water + the turkey. Add 6 garlic cloves, shallots, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and 7 quarts of cold water. Dissolve the sugar and kosher salt in remaining 1 quart of cold water and pour into pot.
- Refrigerate overnight. Use a long fork to turn turkey over about halfway through (before bed).
- Preheat oven to 325F. Use gloves to remove turkey from brine. Rinse brine off of turkey and place into roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper cavity then place remaining 6 cloves of garlic into cavity. I also toss the herbs, garlic and shallots from the brine solution into the cavity. Pour 2 tablespoons of canola oil over turkey and generously sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Use gloves to rub oil, salt and pepper into turkey.
- Fold cheesecloth so that it will cover breasts and place on turkey. Proceed to drizzle remaining 1 tablepsoon of oil onto cheesecloth and rub in to spread. .
- Cook for 20 minutes per pound of weight, rotating roasting pan one to two times during cooking.
- Remove cheesecloth 45 minutes before the end of cooking time to allow breasts to brown.
- Check for an internal temperature of 165F (at thickest part of thigh, breast and wind). Let cool for half hour, carve and enjoy!