There are always so many people that ask me each year how to properly roast a whole turkey for their Thanksgiving feast and my immediate response is usually "do you brine the bird"? A brine is extremely important because it has multiple benefits before the cooking process even begins. A brine is simply a salt water solution that allows the salt water to flow through cell walls of the protein and also carry in flavor by osmosis. Once the process is complete, the extra moisture and seasonings stay inside the bird creating a more flavorful and juicy turkey, which we all want for Thanksgiving. A brine is simple to do and will build your confidence when cooking for the family during the holidays. Here is a basic recipe for an average sized turkey that I've used over the last couple years to impress family members and make them wonder what secret I have as a chef when cooking turkey. Please feel free to be adventurous and add some other flavor components like chipotle, molasses, orange juice, ginger, cloves, etc.... Remember, this is a basic brine that will work as a base or simply by itself.
1# Kosher Salt
1# Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Gallons Water
1 Tbl Black Peppercorns
Procedure: Place the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and water in a large pot; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling completely. Add the chilled liquid to a large bucket, cooler, or pot (large enough to submerge your turkey with the liquid), add the ice. Place the turkey (head first) into the liquid and completely submerge (use a few plates to keep the bird under the brine). Allow the bird to soak overnight or at least 8 hours in a cold place like the refrigerator. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it off completely. Dry thoroughly before trussing the bird with butchers twine (it is extremely important to truss the bird for even cooking and presentation purposes) Check the following for a good video on trussing a turkey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auQB7D_xB0I. Season with a dry rub or infused butter underneath the skin and inside the cavity. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and roast for 3-4 hours, I usually check for 155 degrees with a calibrated thermometer in the thickest part of the bird (between the leg and thigh). Remove from oven and allow the bird to rest for at least 30 minutes, this process will redistribute the juices in the bird and also continue cooking to 165 degrees. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and good luck, feel free to contact me if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org