Brining a turkey is one of the easiest (and most delicious) ways to create a flavorful, moist and gorgeous roasted bird that will surely become the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday meal.
By using simple ingredients (even ones you may otherwise throw away!) to make the brine, you can add tons of flavor to your turkey and help it to be as moist and succulent as it can be.
Here's my favorite way to brine, season and roast a 10-13 pound turkey. Start 2 days before you actually want to roast the turkey (so if you're roasting the bird to serve on Thursday, start this on Tuesday.) It's not that it takes that long, it's just to make it easiest, you want to make the brine 2 days ahead to let it cool (and steep) and then you need 1 day to brine the bird for maximum flavor.
TO MAKE THE BRINE
1 C kosher salt
1 T Stacey Hawkins Rosemary Versatility (or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, fresh sage, parsley and thyme)
3 bay leaves
1 C fresh chopped carrots (unpeeled) or use carrot peels!
1 C apple peels, or one whole apple, chopped up
1 C chopped celery
2 C onion chopped
12 C water or low sodium broth
- Place salt, veggies and fruit scraps in a large stock pan
- Cover with water/stock.
- Bring brine to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes, then place in the fridge to cool completely (good to do overnight).
- Store in a large zipper bag (supported by a large bowl) in the fridge until ready to use.
How to Brine the Turkey
12 hours before you plan on roasting the turkey:
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and cleaned out.
- Place it in a zipper bag large enough to hold it and then pour the brining liquid into the bag.
- Alternately, if you want to be a good sport and conserve plastic, store the brine in an XL plastic bag to start with. Then you just need to carefully add the turkey to the brining bag. NOTE: If you do it this way, have someone give you an extra set of hands, OR to make it a little easier, pour the brining liquid out of the bag into a bowl, then add the turkey to the bag, then add the brine back to the bag. Whatever works for you.
- Pour enough cold water in to the bag to cover the bird completely in liquid.
- Seal the bag (press out all the air you can) and place the sealed bag in a large pan (a disposable roasting pan works well for this.) Place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Before roasting the turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse off the turkey. Blot dry with paper towels.
How to Perfectly Season the Turkey
For additional flavor, make a poultry seasoning rub out of 3 T Stacey Hawkins Rosemary Versatility Seasoning (or other salt-free poultry seasoning) and enough olive oil (or Stacey Hawkins Roasted Garlic oil) to make a paste. Rub the turkey with the mixture inside and out. Place in a large roasting pan.
Hint- want a super flavorful gravy? Make a “roasting rack” of alternating whole peeled carrots and celery stalks (can do onions too!) in the bottom of the pan. Add 1 C of water and then set the turkey on the veggie rack before roasting.
For the perfect gravy, remove the turkey and then pour all the remaining ingredients (including veggies) into the blender. Add a little chicken stock if needed and pulse until super smooth. Pour into a pot and bring to a boil. Add a little more chicken stock if needed. Season with salt and pepper and serve. No need to add thickeners and a great way to sneak veggies into your dinner.
To Roast the Turkey:
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees (yes, really, 500 degrees)
- Roast the turkey on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 350 degrees
- Roast for 2 to 2 ½ hours more (unstuffed bird) until a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reaches 161 degrees.
- Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving. (Bird should be 165 degrees to serve) Serve with gravy, all your favorite sides & enjoy!