If every Thanksgiving your turkey is still dry, you’re doing it wrong. The good news is that it’s not too late to fix things for Thursday. Whether it’s you who’s cooking or a family member, I have two pieces of advice: FRESH TURKEY and BRINE.
They go hand in hand actually … one doesn’t become magic without the other. See, the old school frozen bird needs to remain a thing of the past. Sure, you can go the deep fryer route, but that’s a production of a whole ‘nother nature. Just know that a fresh bird that sits in a brine for at least a day can then be cooked to perfection and it will renew your faith in juicy birds.
Here’s What To Do:
For a 16 to 20 pound turkey:
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (1 cup of salt per gallon of water is the general rule here … )
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 4 bay leaves
- 5 stems fresh thyme
- 3 stems fresh sage
- 2 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (remove the leaves, discard the stems)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley (stems okay here)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- the peel of a good-sized orange
- 1 gallon (at least) of water
With everything in the pot, bring it to a boil and then let it FULLY cool back to room temperature.
Submerge the turkey in the pot (it helps to put it breast side down and make sure the innards are removed first) and put saran wrap over the top. Weigh down the bird so it stays submerged and leave it be for at least 24 hours before cooking for your feast. In fact, if you can go for 36 hours of brining, your bird will be even better. Be sure to refrigerate or set the pot in a cool area during this time.
Then follow your usual turkey cooking recipe, but pat the bird dry before placing it in the oven. Remember, fresh herbs are better so why skimp now? Once you’ve had a fresh juicy brined turkey, you will never look at a frozen Butterball ever again. Happy Thanksgiving!!
(And remember to say thanks to your good friend Angie C …)
photo credit: Christina Xu