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Every year we look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners with excitement for our favorite main course: the brined Turkey. Hubs has said many times that he never understood why he couldn’t have the same meal on Christmas night as he did for Thanksgiving, when everyone loved it so much. It seems my in-laws might have adored the typical Christmas Ham a bit more than he did.
So with several years perfecting the brine and roasted turkey method under his belt, he made the most tender and juicy bird so far when he made our Roasted, Brined Turkey yesterday for Christmas dinner. If you haven’t yet used a brine for your turkey, and are still using the old bag method, you have no idea what you’re missing out on! From a faster baking time to a more tender and juicy turkey, brining the turkey helps create a more delectable bird your family and friends will rave about.
While we love a brined turkey, I’ve read some people who don’t use the brine method because they fear it makes the turkey too salty, and the juices from the roasting pan too salty to use for a gravy. I agree it does make the turkey a bit more salty than a non-brined bird, however, we use a small amount of salt and it doesn’t overwhelm us with a salty flavor (to be honest, I’m a bit sensitive to over-salting and would admit if it was a problem).
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. 5 gallon bucket to use for soaking the turkey and brine.
2. garbage bag to line to bucket - while we keep a clean bucket, we still line the bucket before putting the brine and bird in it to soak.
3. bag of ice -we use the standard bag from the store since we would use our entire ice supply from our freezer (gotta save some ice for the Christmas margs later that night!)
Here’s what you’ll do:
1. Prep the brine following instructions below, and set it set aside to cool off.
2. Once cool, and right before you head to bed, place the bag in the bucket, pour the brine in the bucket and add the bird. Cover with ice and go to bed.
3. Wake up and start prepping your bird 3 hours before you want to eat.
Here’s a pic of our Christmas Turkey and the simple brine recipe the hubs uses – enjoy!
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon gluten-free vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
- Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil.
- Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon bucket.
- Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine.
- It may be necessary to weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed.
- Cover and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Roasted Turkey with a Simple Brine
- 1 14 to 16 pound young turkey
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Olive Oil
- Recommend a Thermometer alarm
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. (discard the brine)
- Place the turkey on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
- 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 olive oil.
- Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Set the thermometer alarm to 161 degrees F.
- A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
- Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.