Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Herb-Roasted Turkey and Pioneer Woman: Turkey Brine

Somehow I got stuck cooking the turkey, even after I tried my hardest to pawn it off on another family member.  How do these things happen?  And then you have the stress of not messing up the turkey.  That's a lot of pressure.  So I figure the best idea would be to brine the thing so it would stay nice and juicy throughout, and I was right.  This turkey was delicious, tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned.

Note: The brine recipe makes enough for an 18 to 20 pound turkey.  My turkey was only 9 pounds, so I made ¾ of the recipe.  I probably could have gotten away with half, but I wanted to make sure my whole turkey was submerged.  I also recommend starting to check for doneness around the 13 minutes per pound mark, as you don't want to overdo it.  But just in case you do, the brining should help insulate you a bit from dryness.

Herb-Roasted Turkey

1 brined turkey (see below)
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons choppped fresh sage
1 small onion, cut into quarters
1 large orange, cut into quarters
1 sprig rosemary

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Tie the legs of the turkey together and place on a rack in a roasting pan.  Pour chicken broth in the bottom of the pan.  Gently lift the skin from the breast of the turkey.  Mash the butter with the fresh herbs, then rub ⅓ of the butter under the skin of the breast.  Rub the remaining butter over the outside skin of the breast, thighs, and legs.  Do NOT salt the turkey further; the brine has done its job.  Stuff the cavity with the onion, orange, and rosemary sprig.  Place the turkey in the preheated oven and roast for 13 to 15 minutes per pound, basting every 20 to 30 minutes.  Check for doneness in the thigh, which should be 165°F when done.  Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Turkey Brine
From Pioneer Woman

3 cups apple cider
2 gallons cold water
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
5 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups kosher salt
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
Peel of 3 large oranges

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and brown sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.  Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.

After brining time has elapsed, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.  Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water and pat dry.  If desired, place turkey, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight to dry out the skin a little.  This will make for a crispier skin after roasting.

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