Brine baby brine!
The secret to a perfectly moist and juicy bird (turkey or chicken) is brine. If you haven’t done it yet, you should give it a try. Apple & herb-brined turkey is my favorite, but you can mix it up and use and kind of juice you like (orange is delicious). You can also use all water and add cut up lemons and extra garlic to the brine or any other seasonings you like.
Choose your bird
If you are brining your turkey, make sure that the turkey you buy does not already have a solution added to it — some turkeys now come injected with a soduim solution, which is in effect brine, and will make your end result overly salty.
I always use fresh local turkeys from @lilachedgefarm, but this will work with frozen if that’s what you have. If working with frozen turkey, see below for a handy thaw chart.
Cook your bird
After brining, you can cook your turkey however you are used to, or try a new method. I cook my turkeys by high-heat roasting or deep frying, which are the best ways to cook a bird under 16 pounds. If I am cooking for a crowd, I always prefer to do two smaller turkeys rather than one really large one. I will usually cook one in the oven and deep fry one.
APPLE & HERB-BRINED TURKEY
- 1 gallon boiling water
- 8 ounce brown sugar (or maple sugar)
- 12-16 ounces kosher salt
- 1 gallon apple juice (or apple cider)*
- 10 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 springs fresh rosemary
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Add the salt and brown sugar to the boiling water, and stir until dissolved.
Add juice, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Mix, and let sit until brine is completely cooled down.
Place thawed turkey in a brining bag, large pot or clean five-gallon bucket, and pour brine over it. Make sure the turkey is completely covered.
Place in the refrigerator, and let it sit for 12-24 hours.
Remove turkey from brine, and pat dry with paper towels before roasting.
*You can use any type of juice you like or you can use all water. For an extra flavor boost you can add sliced oranges and/or lemons to the brine as well.
If you like a little heat, you can add red pepperflakes, peppercorns or sliced jalepeno to the brine.