Turkey, 12-14 pounds, Serves 10-12
Great debates are all around us on whether to dry rub, brine the turkey, or just butter/salt/pepper your bird. For a very moist and favorable turkey, below are instructions on a brine for your next turkey dinner.
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon juniper berries
2 good sized springs fresh thyme
2 whole bay leaves
peel of one large naval orange
1 large apple chopped or crushed
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 gallon of ice water or more as needed to cover the turkey
2 stalks of celery with leaves roughly cut
2 large carrots just cleaned and roughly cut
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly cut
2 quarts chicken stock
1 bunch parsley with stems
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon kosher salt
To brine the Turkey
1. The night before your dinner, place all brine ingredients listed except the ice water into a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil then simmer on low for two minutes. Cool the brine to at least room temperature.
2. While the brine is cooling remove the neck and gizzards from the turkey and rise the turkey in cold water. Save the neck and gizzards for your gravy. Place the rinsed turkey on a clean cutting board breast side down and with a sharp knife or kitchen shears, remove the back bone (which can be used for gravy as well). Removing the back bone will allow the turkey to cook evenly instead of the breast meat over-cooking while the legs and thighs take longer to be done.
3. In a large pot (big enough to hold your turkey submerged with brine) place the turkey, with neck and back, in the pot and cover with the brine and the gallon of water, making sure the turkey is completely submerged. Add more water if needed. Helpful hint: If your turkey is very large and too big to fit into a pot to brine, line a cooler with a trash bag (unscented) and use that to hold the turkey. Store in a cool place to store the cooler or if large enough of a cooler, another bag of ice kept in the cooler with ice remaining in the bag will keep the turkey overnight. Plan to brine overnight or 8-10 hours.
To Roast the Turkey
4. The following day, about three hours before you want the turkey to be finished, remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine, saving the neck and back for the gravy.
5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place the oven rack on the lowest section of the oven.
6. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry.
7. In a large roasting pan place the vegetables, chicken stock and parsley. Then place a V-style rack with the point of the V facing up (which is the opposite of how you normally use it), over the vegetables and stock.
8. Place the turkey over the rack so that is saddles the rack breast up. Bend the wings tips under the breast and the the leg ends down into the rack so the turkey doesn't slide. Brush the turkey with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the salt.
9. Place in the pre-heated oven uncovered for 30 minutes to brown. Then remove and lower the oven to 325 degrees. Place a probe thermometer into the thick part of the breast and set the alarm for 160 degrees. Tent the turkey with foil and place back into the oven.
10. When the turkey reaches 160 degrees, remove from the oven and transfer turkey to a serving platter, savings the drippings and solids in a separate container for the gravy. Because the backbone is gone, the turkey will be easy to pick up with long handled tongs.
11. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes. While the turkey rests complete your gravy.