Thursday, November 8, 2012

Herb Brined Turkey

Our family had our very first Thanksgiving with just our sweet family a few years back.  It was weird not being with extended family, but we've actually done it a couple of times since then as well & we kind of like it.  Not that we don't love being with family as well, but sometimes it's nice to just have your own traditions & a little less quiet!:)

So, anyway, on that first Thanksgiving by ourselves we decided to try our hand at brining our turkey. 

WE WILL NEVER DO IT ANOTHER WAY NOW!

The turkey was so juicy & flavorful...and the gravy made from the drippings was AMAZING!

This is now our go-to turkey method.  It is really easy since we always use a turkey roasting bag so we don't have to worry about basting.  This bird is fabulous!  Thanks to Emeril Lagasse for the fabulous recipe!

Herb Brined Turkey

  • 1 turkey (10-12 pounds)

  • For the Brine:
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
For the inside of the turkey:
1 large orange, cut into 8ths
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 bunch sage
3 or 4 sprigs parsley

For the brine:  Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water.  I usually use my water bath canner, but you can use a clean bucket or large stockpot or even a heavy-duty food grade plastic storage bag.  Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.

NOTE:  We usually roast the biggest turkey we can find because we love leftovers.  So, if you plan to cook a bird bigger than 12 pounds and need more brine just add an extra 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar to every gallon of water.  You just need enough brining solution to cover your bird.

Prepare your turkey by removing the neck, giblets and liver from the cavity of the turkey.  (This is my very least part...I usually make Tony do the honors!)
Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.

Place turkey in the brining solution and cover.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.  I always start the brine on Thanksgiving eve.

When you are ready to cook your turkey, remove it from the brining solution and rinse under cold running water.  Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out.  Place turkey, breast side up, in a large roasting pan.  Rub the breast with one of the orange segments and rub on all sides with the butter, stuffing some underneath the skin (I actually like this part...I'm a freak I know!)  Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

Place turkey in a turkey roasting bag and then stuff the turkey with the onion, orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. 

Follow the baking instructions on the roasting bag.  

If you are inclined to make gravy...PLEASE, please, please don't throw away the drippings at the bottom of your roasting bag!  It makes the most fabulous gravy!

Here's how we make our gravy:

Measure how many cups of drippings you have.  For each cup of drippings you will need 1/4 cup of cold water and 2 Tablespoons of flour.

Heat drippings in saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling.  Mix cold water with the flour.  This needs to be mixed really well so that you don't have clumps in your gravy.  I usually put it in a mason jar and screw a lid on it and let the kids shake the guts out of it!

When boiling, add the water/flour thickening and stir until thickened.  This won't take long.  Pretty dang easy and you've now got  a killer turkey and gravy!!
Don't forget to make some awesome Creamy Mashed Potatoes to go with your gravy!

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