How to Brine and Cook a Turkey

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Brining a turkey before cooking is an excellent way to increase the bird's ability to retain moisture throughout the roasting process. It results in an extremely moist turkey with excellent flavor. At the most basic level, you can brine your turkey simply by combining the salt, sugar, and peppercorns listed in the ingredients below. Using the additional seasons helps enhance the flavor of the bird. You may want to err on the side of a shorter brining time if you're concerned with having your turkey be too salty.

How to cook a Thankgiving Turkey

Brine Ingredients:
2 c kosher salt
1 c raw sugar
1 c honey
2-3 bay leaves
2 Tbl peppercorns
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp celery seeds
3 cloves garlic
1 lemon
2-3 sprigs thyme
2-3 sprigs sage
10-14 lb turkey
1 brining bag

Roasting Pan Ingredients:

2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lemon, sliced
4 cloves garlic
3-4 sprigs thyme
3-4 sprigs sage
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Brine Procedure

Combine all brining ingredients in brining bag with 2 qts water; remove giblets from inside turkey and add to brine; make sure turkey is completely submerged, you can place the whole thing in the roasting pan or stock pot in case of a bag leak and refrigerate 12-24 hours

Turkey Roasting Procedure

1) Remove turkey from brine and dry with paper towels; stuff turkey with some of the onion, garlic, lemon, and herbs; tuck the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with some butchers twine; rub the entire bird with olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper

Brined Turkey Stuffed and Dressed for the Oven

2) Place bird on a rack in a large roasting pan; scatter the remaining vegetables around the roasting pan and drizzle with a little olive oil

3) Place bird in a 350 degree oven for 30 min, then reduce temperature to 325 and roast bird till thermometer reads 165 in the thigh area at the deepest part of the muscle; you will want to baste with juices from the pan or more olive oil every 30 min or so; you can factor around 13-15 min per lb for total time, however don't rely on time... temperature is what matters; cover the bird with foil if the skin is becoming too dark in places. See our guide on turkey cooking times for a good time estimate.

4) When the bird reaches the correct temp remove it to a platter to rest 10 min while you make the gravy

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