Sunday, November 20, 2011

Brining My Thanksgiving Turkey (Cranberry, Apple & Sage)

Happy Thanksgiving:

I purchased a  11 1/2 # farm raised no hormones or antibiotics turkey for Thanksgiving from Locust Leaf Farm in Foster, Rhode Island. (want to learn more about where and how I got my turkey?  click here) The following blog post will detail how I brined the turkey.


First lest start by asking why brine a fresh farm raised turkey?  Well brining adds moisture and flavor to the turkey and helps to keep it from drying out. Not only will your turkey be moist and tender but you will also accent the natural flavor of the bird. Planning is the one the most important part of the brining process, brining to early could be disastrous, brining to late would be a waste of time. You will need to brine your turkey roughly one hour for every pound.  For my turkey I started brining my turkey 11 hours prior to the turkey making its way into the oven.

For the brine: (recipe a variation of Good Eats Roast Turkey)

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 gallon chicken stock
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 2 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

Directions

Combine the chicken stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, sage in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil, add one bag of cranberries (they will pop like popcorn), boil for one minute.. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Cooking
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Stuff the turkey with the second bag of cranberries and truss the turkey.  Need help or don't know how to truss a turkey?  Click here  coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.

A 11 to 13 pound bird should require approximately 2  hours of roasting or until the thickest part of the leg reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Until I Blog Again:  Live Life, Eat Well and Be Safe