I took over the arduous duty of making the turkey two years ago. The first year, I just threw it in the oven stuffed with veggies and basted constantly, but it still turned out dry and plain. Last year, I tried using an oven bag and it was super moist, but the turkey itself looked ugly because the meat was falling off the bones. So this year, I decided to try brining it and initially roasting it breast side down.
There are a bunch of perks to brining a turkey. First, the brine imparts so much flavor into the turkey that you can’t quite get by stuffing herbs under the skin or slathering mixtures on the skin. Second, you don’t really have to baste at all, so you don’t have to worry about tending to it while you’re getting the rest of the meal together. Third, the meat turns out SO juicy–even the white meat!
So give it a try! I know I will be brining my turkeys every year from now on. I wish the skin turned out more browned, but I’ll work on making that happen next time. I also want to experiment with different flavor combinations for the brine, so when I roast another turkey for Christmas and I’ll let you guys know how it goes!
Brined Roasted Turkey
for the brine:
1 quart vegetable broth
1 quart apple juice
1 cup salt
4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 tbsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh sage (or 1 tbsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp dry)
1 gallon ice water
for the roasting:
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups carrots (I used 4 carrots), chopped into 2-inch chunks
2 cups celery (I used 6 ribs of celery), chopped into 2-inch chunks
2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch wedges (I cut them into sixths longitudinally)
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted
2 cups water
1 (12-18 lb) turkey, thawed, washed, and with giblets and such removed (make sure the turkey hasn’t already been brined)
- To brine the turkey: Bring the vegetable broth and apple juice to a boil in a large stock pot. Add the salt and herbs, make sure the salt has dissolved completely, turn off the heat, and allow the herbs to steep in the pot with the lid on for 15-30 minutes. Add ice water and allow to cool. Put the turkey in a plastic bag (I used an oven bag, but you can use a large storage bag as well. Just makes sure that it’s made of food-grade plastic) breast-side down. Pour the brine into the bag and tie it closed, making sure to allow the brine to get into the turkey cavity and to get all the air out of the bag. Put it in a cooler and cover it with ice. Allow to sit for 12-24 hours.
- 1-1.5 hours before roasting, take the turkey out and let it sit on the counter to bring the temperature up a bit. This will cut the cook time down slightly.
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel and begin filling the cavity with 1/3 of the carrots, celery, and onion wedges. Put the rest of the vegetables on the bottom of a roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or foil. Brush the breast side with half of the melted butter.
- Put the turkey breast side down on a v-rack that has been placed in the roasting pan. Brush the top with the rest of the melted butter.
- Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan into the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
- Take the roasting pan out and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast side is up (I used my hands wearing oven mitts covered with plastic bags to turn it over). Cover the breast and wrap the wing tips with foil. Roast for another 1-2 hours.
- Take the roasting pan out again and remove the foil covering the breasts. Roast for another 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F.
- Take the turkey out and tent it in foil for 30-45 minutes to let the juice redistribute. Then it will be ready to carve!