Cary, NC — Several years ago, we discovered how easy it was to brine our turkey and loved the results of a moist and flavorful bird.
Tips for Brining
Brining (or soaking the bird in salt water and spices overnight) makes the meat juicy and flavorful. We generally cook at a low (325°) temperature for an extended amount of time.
This recipe, the third in our Thanksgiving 2014 Recipes series, comes to us courtesy of The Matthews House in Cary. Instead of a simple salt water and spices brine, the chef has added apple cider, oranges and maple syrup to impart the flavors of fall.
Make sure you have a container that can accommodate a gallon and a half of liquid along with the size of your bird. We generally use a large cooler that is set aside every year just for this purpose. A lobster pot may work as well. As temps get pretty cool the week of Thanksgiving, we keep the bird in our garage, covered, as opposed to trying to fit a large pot in our already packed refrigerator.
Recipe: Apple-Cider Brined Turkey
- 2 quarts apple cider
- ½ cup salt
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 6 strips of orange rind
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 (12 lb) turkey, thawed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rosemary
- 2 teaspoons sage
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 apple, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves
- ½ onion, sliced
- Prepare the brine – combine all of the ingredients, except water, in a large pot over high heat. Cook until salt dissolves, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 gallon of cold water. Cool to room temperature.
- Remove the giblets and neck from turkey. Trim excess fat. Add turkey to brine. Refrigerate 18 – 24 hours, turning occasionally.
- Remove turkey from brine and pat dry and loosen the skin from the turkey.
- Combine olive oil, rosemary, sage, and black pepper. Rub the mixture under loosened skin and over turkey. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Cover loosely with foil and bake for an additional 1 hour. Allow more time for a larger bird
- Mix ½ cup apple cider and ¼ cup bourbon in a saucepan. Cook over medium high heat; boil 3 minutes. Drizzle over turkey.
The Thanksgiving Food Column was sponsored in part by the Matthews House of Cary. View their complete Thanksgiving menu. Photo by Steven Depolo.