Brined Turkey

When Colby and I moved into the new house, we had to learn a few things about homeownership. First of all, it turns out you have to pay a water bill. I didn’t really think about it since water was included in our rent at the apartment before. I figured we paid for a few months of water in our closing costs. NOPE. Found out the hard way when we came home to our water shut off a couple of days ago. Taking a shower just isn’t the same when you have to use a water bottle. But hey, I guess we got 2 weeks of free water out of it before they shut it off!

Another thing I discovered is that our new fridge, while beautiful, does not accommodate a 21 lb frozen turkey in the freezer drawer. So it’s Thanksgiving in February, everyone!

I followed my dad’s favorite roasted turkey recipe to cook the bird. He always said the recipe is “top-secret,” but after I asked very nicely for the secret recipe, he sent me a link to Alton Brown’s Roasted Turkey Recipe from Food Network.

Not surprisingly, it’s amazing. Alton Brown is the coolest, nerdiest chef on Food Network. I trust that every recipe he creates is perfect down to a science.

Photo credit goes to Simply Recipes this time. I roasted the turkey on a weeknight… in the middle of the night. When it was finally done at 3am, the last thing I wanted to do was take pictures. I just wanted to eat that delicious crispy skin and go to bed.

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey – Mine was 21 lbs, and I didn’t have to change the recipe

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
canola oil

1. 2-3 days before roasting, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

2. Early on the day or the night before you want to eat, combine the brine, water, and ice in a 5 gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8-16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

4. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

5. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

6. Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14-16 pound bird should require a total of 2 – 2 1/2 hours of roasting. My 21 pound bird took about 3 hours. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl, for 15 minutes before carving.

You’re going to love this turkey! It’s tender, juicy, and flavorful. I’m sure I’ll be brining all my poultry from now on!

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