This year was possibly my first year making a turkey. I vaguely remember making one before, but I can’t quite pinpoint exactly when and where. Either way you look at it, I can tell you one thing – if I did make it before it wasn’t anywhere near as good as this years turkey. The week of Thanksgiving was nothing short of HECTIC! Isn’t it always? We bought our turkey the weekend before and immediately started thawing it to ensure it was completely thawed by the time it was ready to be cooked. The days went by and I didn’t have a single moment to do anything with the turkey until late the night before. I had gone to my FB fans who offered suggestions and almost unanimously the consensus was to brine the turkey. Have you ever heard of that? I hadn’t, but I was intrigued.
“Wet brining, which does seem to be the most popular option (as opposed to a dry brine), is indeed slightly more involved, as it requires soaking a turkey in a salt-water solution (herbs, spices, and aromatics can be incorporated and sometimes other liquids like beer or molasses are added to the water) for several hours or overnight. Still, with a solid recipe and a little know-how, giving your turkey a long, flavorful bath, i.e. wet brining it, is really quite easy.” [Epicurious] I chose the wet brine.
Oven Roasted Turkey
If you're looking for good turkey recipes for Thanksgiving, this Oven Roasted Turkey is just what you need to feed your family and friends!
- 1 gallon vegetable stock or water I used water
- 1 c. salt
Bring vegetable stock or water and salt to a boil, stir a couple of times. Remove from heat until room temperature.
Refrigerate until completely chilled (can be prepared a couple of days ahead). Make sure to leave the lid on.
When ready to use, add brine to a large clean bucket. Add 1 gallon of heavily iced water.
Make sure turkey extras have been removed (giblet, neck, and anything else left in the cavity). Place turkey in bucket head first, because the breast seems to dry out more than dark meat. Let sit for 6-8 hours. Leave in a cool place in the kitchen or garage (if it's cold outside).
Turn at least once about halfway through brining for meat to be completely "marinated".
Once the turkey has been brined, you are ready to roast it. To keep my oven free for me to work on all of my side dishes (Homemade Mac and Cheese, Butternut Squash | Quinoa | Kale Stuffing, and Holiday Dinner Rolls) I used an electric roaster. Sure makes it nice since I only have one oven (some day I hope I'll be able to have two!). Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your bird. I had a 12 lb.
To prep your bird for roasting, you will remove from brine and completely dry off. Be sure to shake any excess liquid from the cavity.
Once dry, I rubbed the turkey down with olive oil and seasoned with freshly cracked pepper (hold the salt, there was plenty in the brine). I also sliced a lemon and an apple and placed in the cavity. This is one of those family things that we've always done. So I did it.
I roasted my 12 lb. turkey at 325 F for 4 1/2'ish hours and then turned it down to 200 for another couple of hours. End result? The most tender and juiciest turkey I've ever had!
[My 2 Cents]
I'm usually more of a ham fan because in years past, no matter how much gravy you drowned your turkey in there wasn't anything that was making that meat any sort of moist. I'm now a believer in brining the turkey first. It made all of the world of difference, and when I went to prep the leftovers for storage the meat was practically falling off the bone. Have you EVER seen turkey meat do that? I sure haven't. Also, you are able to brine your turkey anywhere from 8-36 hours, I wasn't ready to make my turkey until about 48 hours. So I just kept the turkey in the fridge until I was ready to use it.
Did you know the Ziplock makes extra large bags? Well - they do, and that's actually what I put my turkey in with the brine and zipped right up. Once it was secure in the bag I placed it in my large stock pot. Worked like a charm at holding everything together without making a big mess!
Adapted from "How To Brine A Turkey" by Alton Brown