Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Thanksgiving Turkey (brined and overnight roasted)

One of my Thanksgiving guests requested turkey roasting instructions and my brine recipe. Needless to say, I was flattered, and I also thought that while I was typing this up I could make it a blog post as well. I need the record for my own purposes, too, because I'd like to repeat the brine next year and by then I may have forgotten. Most likely.

Sooo, for the brine:

1 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
generous handful oregano
smaller handful black pepper corns
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 1/2 tsps Italian seasoning

I came up with this particular combo myself, but not entirely out of my own head-- it was synthesized after reading and comparing several brine recipes online. The idea was for the oregano to predominate and the other flavors to act in a supporting role.

Anyway, back to instructions. Fill a pot with about a gallon of water and all the ingredients above. Heat until salt and sugar is completely dissolved, but not until boiling. (I brined my turkey in an ice chest and it required another two gallons of water to cover him adequately. I kept him in the brine for 12 hours.) For safety purposes, it's important to make sure he stays cool, so if you won't be brining in the refridgerator, make sure to use plenty of ice. After brining, give a thorough rinsing inside and out to remove excess salt. Also remove neck and bag of giblets if you haven't remembered to do so already. :)

Now it is time to roast your turkey! I did mine following a technique learned from my aunt: heat the oven to 500 degrees F (yes, you read that correctly) and blast the turkey (in a roasting pan, uncovered, breast side up) at that temperature for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn the turkey breast side down, lower oven to 250 degrees F and cook uncovered at that temperature for 40 minutes per pound. Another way to calculate this is 2/3 of your turkey's weight in pounds will equal the number of hours needed to roast. For most turkeys of any respectable size this will be an overnight process plus. My fifteen pounder took ten hours. This long, slow roasting time, with the turkey breast simmering in it's own juices, ensures a moist and flavorful result.

Well, the end, I guess. Happy roasting!

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