Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Story of This Turkey - How to brine and cook a turkey!

Due to leaving my camera in Massachusetts, it's been kind of tough to pull recipes together. Thankfully I FINALLY have it back, woo! Major props to the fiancé for lending me his camera for turkey day though. It's a little older and harder for me to work with, so forgive me if the pics aren't top quality... moreso my lack of skill than his camera.

So this is from Thanksgiving, but I've been dying to share it with you. Considering tomorrow starts the HEB Virtual Progressive Dinner, I thought it'd fit in nicely to kick off the week.

If you need a reminder... Here's the Lineup for the Week:

Monday 12/8: Table Décor by Handmade Mood

Tuesday 12/9: Drinks/Wine by yours truly ;)

Wednesday 12/10: Appetizers by Confections of a Foodie Bride

Thursday 12/11: Main Course by A Zesty Bite

Friday 12/12: Desserts by The Baking Fairy

And don't forget about the Instagram Contest! Check my previous post for more details.

Now, for this turkey... I went back to Massachusetts for my mom's birthday over Thanksgiving, and the fiancé was working the actual holiday. We were a little sad at the idea of not having Thanksgiving leftovers, so I made an entire Thanksgiving dinner five days early with a few close friends.

I'd never in my life cooked a turkey before, and I was very excited to take on the process of making THE. PERFECT. TURKEY. I consulted the expert, Alton Brown, and some family know-how, and the results (as you can see) are pretty dang perfect!

Juicy, flavorful, and a good blend of new and old techniques. I even made homemade gravy to smother it with. All in all, my first turkey was a success!

Tips: Don't stuff the turkey with stuffing! Cook stuffing separately to ensure a juicy bird. Save the giblets to make THE BEST GRAVY EVER! Save the bones (and any veggie trimmings you have leftover) to make stock.

The Perfect Turkey
(Recipe based largely on Alton Brown's Good Eats)

  • 1 turkey, ~12 lbs
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 gallon stock (I used a combo of veg and chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 ginger knob, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 gallon of water

For Inside the Turkey

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 apple, sliced in half
  • 1 onion, sliced in half
  • 1 cup water

Herbed Butter

  • 2 sticks room temp butter
  • 2 tablespoons herbs de provance
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil

-In a large stock pot, combine the salt, brown sugar, apple cider, stock, peppercorns, allspice berries, and cinnamon stick. Heat over medium-high heat, until salt and sugar have dissolved. Bring to a boil, then take off heat and cool to room temp.

-Combine the ingredients for the herbed butter, stirring so that all ingredients are well combined, and place in fridge until ready to roast turkey.

-In a 5 gallon pot, place turkey and cover with brine and 1 gallon of cold water. Let sit in fridge overnight.

-When ready to roast, pat turkey dry and place on a roasting rack. Combine cinnamon stick, apple, onion, and 1 cup water in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds. Drain water off, and place in the cavity of the turkey.

-Gently make cuts in the turkey's skin, and take cubes of the herbed butter and place under skin. Do this over the entire bird.

-Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Cut a piece of tinfoil that will cover the breast of the bird. Spray lightly with cooking spray, and set aside. Roast bird for 30 minutes at this heat.

-Remove from oven and place apron over breast. Bring heat down to 350 degrees F and roast for 2 and a half hours, or until internal temperature reaches 161 degrees F.* Let rest outside the oven, covered, for 15 minutes before carving.

*Alton suggests a fancy-pants thermometer-alarm here, but I don't have that. So I just checked periodically with a regular meat thermometer.


  1. I've always stayed away for wet brining a turkey because of the mess. I always "dry Brine", but the apple cider vinegar is a tempting flavor to impart. Going to keep this in mind.

  2. Indeed looks like the perfect turkey!