Thanksgiving day would be much less stressful for a host if she didn’t have to cook a $45 bird for a large group of people. That annual experience makes it hard to remember what you should improve on one year to the next.
If you ask Allison, she’ll tell you that we spent our entire second winter eating turkey. It was a unique experience that left us fairly confident when cooking up a turkey.
Before Sunday, I’d never brined a turkey before, so I decided to give it a try.
I just used a basic ratio, 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt for every cup of water. Make sure it’s dissolved.
Some people add a bunch of seasonings while brining, but I just wanted fast and easy.
I placed my turkey in a tall stock pot and filled it as high as I could with the brine. I wanted to immerse the bird, but couldn’t quite get its tail end submerged.
You’ll want to brine for at least 12 hours, but some people like to go for 24.
I’ve always seen it recommended that you brine in the refrigerator, but I left mine on the counter top.
Why is brining important?
Like I mentioned, Sunday was my first time brining a turkey and I have cooked a bunch of them.
It really did seem like the flavor of the meat was more pronounced and enjoyable because of the brine.
If you go without it, it’s still a great eating experience, but you can take those flavors to a higher level without much effort. It does take a little foresight though.
We were having turkey for our noon meal on Sunday, so we set the oven on 350, threw the turkey in at 8:30 and pulled it out at 12 when we got home. My 16 pounder was approaching too well done in that 3.5 hour time frame.
Keep an eye on internal temps, you’ll want to breast to be about 165, and the thigh to be about 180.
I like to put 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan, it seems like it keeps the turkey from burning to the bottom.
I also like to roast with the lid on, it keeps all the moisture contained and you’ll have something left to make gravy with when it comes out.
Without a lid, the moisture will mostly cook out of the pan, and the turkey is more at risk of becoming too dry, in my experience.
If it tickles your fancy, sprinkle several of your favorite spices on the bird before you throw it in.
I’ve come to the conclusion that starting with high quality meat is far more important than trying to get the perfect spice combination.
When you pull that turkey from the oven, give it a good 10 minutes on the counter to cool before cutting into it.
Something about slicing it open right away allows lots of moisture to evaporate. If you’re concerned about keeping it moist, you’ll let it sit for a bit to sorta stabilize those juices.
Everybody dug into our early thanksgiving spread and found it quite satisfying. we did it, I’m confident that you can pull it off real easy too.
Please shoot me a review once you’ve used my recipe!