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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brined Turkey

This year is the first year I've cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I decided to brine the turkey. Boy, am I glad I did! The turkey was so flavorful and juicy. My husband said it was probably the best turkey he'd ever had! Even my mother-in-law, who only likes dark meat, thought the white meat was really juicy. So, even if you never use this brining recipe, it's here so I have a record of what I did so I can repeat it next year. :)

2 gallons cold water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
3 dried bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage
1 Tbsp. dried lemon peel
1 Tbsp. dried orange peel

Heat ~1 quart of the water, salt, sugar, and bay leaves to and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Use the remaining water to cool the mixture down. Place a washed turkey in the brine, making sure the cavity fills with the liquid. Put in the sprigs of thyme and sage. Put the dried citrus peel in a cotton bag or a pouch made of cheesecloth. Cover the turkey/brine and place in the refrigerator. Let sit for 8 hours, or overnight, up to 24 hours before cooking.

To cook: Remove the turkey from the brine, making sure the herbs stay with the brine instead of the turkey. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Put an onion, peeled & quartered, carrots and celery (use larger chunks) in the cavity along with some fresh sprigs of thyme and sage. Truss. Roast at 400F for an hour, covered with foil. Turn the heat down to 350 and cook for another 1.5 hours. Check the internal temp with a meat thermometer; it should read around 165. Take the turkey out and let it carry-over cook while covered in foil until it's done (about another hour). The outside won't be too pretty, but the meat is oh-so-tasty. *drool* :) I think next time, I'll roast it uncovered at first, then tent it with foil so the skin won't burn.

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