We're a week away from Thanksgiving! That means one week until delicious, gorgeous, succulent, juicy, coma-inducing turkey! I love me some turkey and I can't wait for not only the bird itself, but all the awesome turkey leftovers that come afterward.
In preparation for Thanksgiving I'm reposting my Brined Turkey recipe that I put up last year. It really is the best way to prepare a turkey. Brining makes the bird so juicy and tender. It's almost like insurance against dried bird. The salt in the brine breaks down the cell walls in the meat, thus allowing more liquid in and giving you a juicier meat. If you'd like more information about it, go here.
Now before I get to the recipe, brining needs to be done to a thawed turkey, of course. Thawing a bird in the fridge takes about 1 day per 4 pounds of turkey. So a 20 pound turkey will take about 5 days to thaw in the fridge. Which means you better get crackin' if you've got a large bird. You can also "quick" thaw" a turkey in cold water if needed. Put the turkey in the sink and fill it with cold water to cover the turkey. Replace the water as it starts to get warm. I believe it's about 30 minutes per pound with the cold water method. Don't quote me on that though.
The Best Turkey Ever
1 quart apple juice
3 quarts water
1 Cup kosher salt
1 Cup brown sugar
5 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbs red pepper flakes
In a giant pot large enough to hold the whole bird, combine all but 2 quarts of water on high heat. Heat until the salt and sugar has melted and the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Place the bird in the liquid and add the rest of the water, or enough to cover it completely. Place the pot in the fridge over night. If you don't have room in a pot, use a large bucket and just add the liquid after it has cooled. If you don't have room in the fridge, add a large amount of ice to the pot/bucket and that should keep it for a couple of hours.
About a half an hour before you are ready to put it in the oven, remove the bird from the brine, pat dry, and let sit for awhile to allow some of the extra liquid to drip out. I place my cookie cooling rack over the sink and let it sit on that to drip dry. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey in the oven, breast side down (this keeps them juicy), and cook for about 3 - 3 1/2 hours. It's done when a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees, and the breast is cooked at about 160 degrees. This is about 3 hours and 15 minutes for our gas oven. Remove and let sit for about 20 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Carve and devour!