To prepare brine, combine first 9 ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat; cook 6 minutes or until salt dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add 1 gallon cold water. Cool to room temperature.
To prepare turkey, remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve neck. Trim excess fat; add turkey to brine. Refrigerate 18 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Pat turkey dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine 3 tablespoons butter and next 3 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon pepper) in a small bowl; rub butter mixture under loosened skin and over breast and drumsticks. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Place apple and next 5 ingredients (through onion) in the body cavity. Secure legs with kitchen twine. Place turkey on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place neck in bottom of roasting pan; place rack with turkey in pan. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cover turkey loosely with foil; bake an additional 45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°. Remove from oven; place turkey on a cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 20 minutes; discard neck and skin.
To prepare gravy, place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour pan drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off one bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add thyme and shallot; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cider and bourbon; boil 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Combine 1/4 cup broth and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1 cup broth, and drippings to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in parsley and vinegar.
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I've made this turkey three years in a row now for Thanksgiving and due to demand will probably be the go to recipe every year! It's moist and delicious every time! My family likes giblet gravy so haven't tried making the bourbon gravy so can't rating doesnt inlude it.
I followed the brine recipe to the letter and used all of the same aromatics but that is where I stopped. I made this for a dinner with friends and no one really wanted gravy and I had totally forgotten about the butter and didn't have any on hand. I did mix a little cider and bourbon together and basted the turkey with it right and the end and then "glazed" it with some maple syrup for the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking. This was by far the best turkey I have ever made or eaten. Followed the cooking time plus about 15 to 20 minutes to brown the skin and it was so moist and the flavor was incredible. It had a sweetness that wasn't obtrusive but reminded you what had been in the brine and makes for fantastic sandwiches. I will make this again and again!!
I bought a 5.5 lb bone-in turkey breast since there are only 2 of us. I halved the brine recipe and pretty much made everything else as called for in the recipe. This was DELICIOUS. Very moist and flavorful. My one complaint is that the recipe does not tell you to dry the turkey out before you prep it for roasting (after you brine it). I took the turkey out of the brine and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Also, make sure the butter for the rub is very soft--I had trouble getting it to stick to the skin (I think it was a combination of moisture in the skin and too cold butter). Overall a great recipe and I will make again.
I doubled the salt because I used a cooler in the garage to hold the turkey/brine over night. I added enough water to cover, likely another gallon and half. It was excellent. Moist, flavorful. I will make this recipe again.
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