Brined Whole Turkey
- Yield 22 servings
The brown-sugar brine brings out the full flavors of this oven-roasted turkey.
- 1 -- (15-pound) whole turkey (not self-basting or kosher), thawed, giblets and neck removed
- 2 cups table salt (do not substitute equal amounts of kosher salt)
- 2 gallons icy cold water
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dried rosemary leaves
- 1/2 cup dried thyme leaves
- 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 -- carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small stalk celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- -- Fresh fruit for garnish
- To brine the turkey, rinse turkey in cool water.
- In a very large, clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot such as stainless steel or glass or a food-grade plastic container), mix salt and water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and spices, mix well until sugar dissolves.
- Totally submerge turkey in solution and store, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Since brining does not preserve meat, the turkey must be kept below 40F throughout the entire brining process. Ice packs may also be used to keep turkey at a safe temperature of below 40F.
- Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the interior and exterior of the turkey by placing it on a wire rack and setting both rack and turkey in a clean, empty sink. Use cool water from the spray hose and rub gently to release the salt and sugar from the turkey.
- Pat skin and both interior cavities dry.
- To roast the turkey, place onion, carrot and celery in the cavity of turkey.
- Brush turkey with melted butter.
- Roast turkey, breast side down, in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste legs and back twice with melted butter.
- Remove turkey from oven and protecting your hands, grasp turkey with several layers of clean paper towels at both ends, and turn turkey, breast side up.
- Return turkey to oven and continue to roast, basting twice with pan dripping. Continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. NOTE: A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check the internal temperature frequently.
- Remove turkey from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.
- Transfer to a platter and garnish with fresh fruit.
Note: The ratio of water to salt is appropriate for a 15-pound turkey. If a larger or smaller turkey is brined, please calculate accordingly. Other combinations of herbs may be added including 6 to 8 bay leaves, 3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns. Or a spicy flavor may be achieved by the addition of 1 cup small dried red chile peppers.