This turkey is a pleasure to offer on your table. It's incredibly moist and flavorful, and it received our highest Test Kitchens rating. Brining is an overnight process, so if you're using a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it well in advance. Choose turkey-sized plastic oven bags for brining the turkey. Use two bags to prevent brine from leaking, and place the turkey in a large stockpot as another precaution. This recipe goes with Savory Herb Gravy.
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
2 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice
4 garlic cloves
4 sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
How to Make It
To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.
Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 500º.
Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Savory Herb Gravy. Discard skin before serving; serve with gravy.
Note: Nutritional analysis includes Savory Herb Gravy.
This is the recipe I use every year and everyone loves it! I am a firm believer of flipping the bird - cooking the bottom at 450 is plenty hot enough. Usually have to tent with foil the last half hour or so. Brining seems to help it cook a little quicker also so check the temp so you don't over cook it. Will continue to use this every year! Also make the gravy!
I have made this five times and it is always outstanding. I use a different gravy but the brining recipe is fantastic and it produces an amazingly moist turkey. I have found that starting it at 450 instead of 500 degrees eliminates the risk of blackening the skin while producing a nice sealed and browned skin.
I've made this twice and both times very pleased.
I was a bit hesitant this Thanksgiving that my 18# bird would be done but calculated the extra time needed for the increased weight and it was completely done and VERY moist. I will never do a turkey any other way again!