Prep 48 hrs
Cook 3 hrs
A salt water brine changes the cellular structure of the turkey and allows it to both hold in the moisture, as well as pull the seasonings deep into the meat. It's actually a very simple process that will yield beautiful and delicious results. My mom told me how good Alton's recipe was and that she was going to repeat it again this year. I decided to try it myself. It's, hands-down, the best roasted turkey we've ever had. The brine and aromatics create an amazing symphony of flavors that starts with the aroma of making the brine and follows right through to the rich, full gravy. I've also used this recipe on a whole fresh chicken by halving the recipe and adjusting the cooking times.
- 1 (14 -16 lb) whole turkey, frozen
For the Brine
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon water, heavily iced
For the Aromatics
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1⁄2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- canola oil
- 2 to 3 days before roasting:.
- Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
- Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
- The night before you'd like to eat:.
- Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
- Place the bird on rack of roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
- Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
Best ever turkey done this way...if you get a wild turkey, brine it 7 hours longer.
Best. Turkey. Ever! We used a fresh, not frozen turkey and we all agreed this was the juiciest, tastiest and most delicious turkey we'd ever had! We had apple cider on hand, so added about 2 cups in addition to the brine ingredients. Used chicken stock instead of vegetable. Will be using this recipe from now on!
We have used this recipe for the past 5 years or better for our family's Thanksgiving. It is the best and easiest way to make a turkey. It is so moist and delicious. We use a 5 gallon paint bucket and carry it from SC to TN each yr.