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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

roast_turkey.jpg"How long should I cook a free range turkey to make sure it's cooked all the way through?"

The length of time you need to cook a turkey varies by weight and should be reasonably consistent whether the turkey is free-range or raised through industrial methods. Regardless of how long it should take to cook a turkey, it is always best to have a meat thermometer handy to verify the temperature of the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast have all reached 165 degrees. Below are some guidelines to help you determine how long you need to cook the turkey, just be sure to verify temperature of the meat before removing from the oven to serve. Timetable assumes a 325 degree oven temperature and a turkey that is either fully thawed or was never previously frozen.

Unstuffed Turkey

4 to 8 pounds: 1.5 to 3.25 hours
8 to 12 pounds: 2.75 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3.75 hours
14 to 18 pounds: 3.75 to 4.25 hours
18 to 20 pounds: 4.25 to 4.5 hours
20 to 24 pounds: 4.5 to 5 hours

Stuffed Turkey

6 to 8 pounds: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3.5 hours
12 to 14 pounds: 3.5 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4.25 hours
18 to 20 pounds: 4.25 to 4.75 hours
20 to 24 pounds: 4.75 to 5.25 hours