Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey, pt. 1 - Brine

Iiiiiiiiittttttttt's Turkey Time!!!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I always feel silly admitting that.  I mean - it's right up there with Christmas and some days Christmas is my favorite, but I love Thanksgiving.  It's usually spent with good friends or family, delicious food is involved, and there is no stress of buying gifts.  Win-win-win!  We are hosting Thanksgiving this year and I'm very excited.  My little sister and her husband and driving 12 hours to come see us and we feel very privileged and grateful.  Of course it's a little scary to take on the task of making such a big meal, but it's also fun.

This is a great recipe for a perfect, moist, simple turkey.  The first key is the brine.  If you've never brined your turkey before, you are really missing out. I never liked turkey growing up because I always thought it was dry - but brined turkeys retain their moisture and are sooo delicious.  A brine just consists of a salt water solution that you submerge the turkey in for a certain number of hours before roasting it.  The salt locks in the moisture and gives you a nice juicy turkey. This definitely takes some planning ahead, a couple days in advance, but it's worth it!

I made this specific brine recipe a couple years ago, and it was delicious.  That Pioneer Woman, she knows how to brine a turkey.  If you're wanting to try a brine, but don't want to do something so involved, just use a simple salt water solution and it was still give you the moisture you're wanting.  About 1.5 cups kosher salt for 2 gallons of water should do the trick.

Give it a shot!  It's delicious.

Frozen turkeys are often injected with a salt solution, so if you're planning on using a frozen turkey instead of a fresh one, make sure you follow a few steps: rinse thoroughly after brining; submerge turkey in plain water for about 15 minutes to remove excess salt; and make giblet stock to add to your gravy instead of canned chicken broth so you don't add even more salt to your drippings.

You'll also need a large container for your turkey to brine in.  Brining bags are great (Bed, Bath and Beyond carries them for pretty cheap), or a 5-gallon bucket, large stockpot, or even a cooler.  Just make sure you're able to maintain a refrigerator temperature and you should be good!

Makes enough for up to a 20 lb. turkey

Turkey Brine

3 c. apple juice or apple cider
2 gallons cold water
4 T. fresh rosemary leaves
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. kosher salt
2 c. brown sugar
3 T. black peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
peels of 3 large oranges

First off, make sure you thaw your turkey in time!  Or buy a fresh turkey (fresh is best).  But that turkey needs to not be frozen when you begin the process.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Stir until sugar and salt dissolve.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover.

Allow to cool completely (this will take several hours, or overnight), then pour into large brining bag or pot or whatever you're using.  Place uncooked turkey (with innards removed) in brine solution and refrigerate for 16-24 hours.

When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey and discard brine.  Rinse turkey well and then submerge in a pot or sink full of clean cold water for 15 minutes.  Rinse again to rid turkey of excess salt and proceed with your normal roasting method.

How to roast up next!

Source: Pioneer Woman

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