Thanksgiving is next week, and we have you covered: we’ve cooked up a bunch of great recipes we’ll be sharing with you over the next several days so you’re ready for your big meal. First up: turkey!
I’ve been known to spend hours making turkey. My favorite recipe is to smoke a turkey (which takes about 8-10 hours), but only after soaking it in brine for 3-5 days. This recipe, though, is the other end of the spectrum: brine it for a day, then cook it in the oven for a few hours. It’s pretty easy — usually the hardest part is finding a container big enough to brine the turkey in — and turns out a moist, delicious bird that’s almost as good as the smoked ones I used to make. This recipe makes enough to brine a turkey that feeds 12 at 49 cents per serving, plus the cost of your turkey.
Apple Cider-Brined Turkey, adapted from Cooking Light, November 2004
For the Brine:
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 1/8-inch thick slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
For the Turkey:
1 12-pound fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
2 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the brine, combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cook the brine for 5 minutes or until the sugar and salt fully dissolve. Let the brine cool completely.
Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey, and rinse the turkey with cold water and then pat it dry. Trim off any excess fat and stuff the body cavity with the orange quarters. Place the turkey inside a double layer of large oven bags, or trash bags if you don’t have any, and put the bagged turkey inside a large stockpot.
Add the cooled brine with the ice to the turkey in the bag. Tie the bag with some twist ties, and let the turkey brine in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. During the brining process, be sure to turn the turkey occasionally so all parts of the bird get to soak up the brine.
When you are ready to cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 500¬?.
Remove the turkey from the bags, and discard the brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat it dry. Lift the wing tips up and over the back, and tuck them under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string, or leave the plastic tag on the legs so you can easily handle the turkey.
Arrange the turkey, breast side down, on the roasting rack. Brush the back of the turkey with 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and season generously with salt and pepper.
Bake the turkey at 500¬? for 30 minutes. After that initial cooking, reduce oven temperature to 350¬?.
Remove the turkey from the oven. Carefully turn the turkey over using tongs so it is breast side up. Brush the turkey breast with 1 tablespoon of butter; and season with more salt and pepper.
Bake the turkey at 350¬? for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the meaty part of thigh registers at 170¬?. When taking the temperature of the turkey, make sure to not touch the bone as that can throw off the reading. In case the legs of the turkey start to brown too fast, place some foil over the legs to shield them from the heat.
Once the turkey is cooked, remove the bird from oven and let it stand for 20 minutes before serving as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner.
Other suggested Thanksgiving recipes:
Back to Basics: Roast Chicken