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Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Cider-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy-How to Brine a Turkey

Brining a turkey before roasting it is one way to get a tender, moist and flavorful bird. Here are some steps for successful brining.

So last year was my first try at Turkey brining, and I have to say it turned out delicious, everyone commented over and over how tasty the turkey was and how juicy, now mind you I have been cooking Turkeys for years and I have tried a few different methods and yes I do like this one very much so this year once again I am making My Apple Cider Turkey Brine.

Below is the recipe that I find tastes really good.

What is Brining?

Brining turkeys is a technique where the turkey (or other meat) is soaked in a saltwater mixture in order to tenderize, moisturize, and flavor the meat. It’s method that comes in and out of style and there are debates about the pros and cons of brining. Some cooks claim that it’s the only way to get a moist and juicy bird; other claim that it doesn’t make a difference and you can get a juicy bird without brining.

Steps for Brining

Prepare the brining mixture according to your recipe directions.

Use two turkey-size oven bags, one placed inside the other, or buy a food-grade resealable brining bag in order to prevent leaks. (You can buy these bags at places such as Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or other types of cooking stores.) Fold down the sides of the bag for a contamination-free seal, then place the turkey in the bag, breast side up. I turn mine over a few times over the next 24 hours or so.

(I put mine in the refrigerator, we have two so I have room) If you don't you can follow the instructions below

Transfer the bag to a large cooler filled halfway with ice, snuggling the bag down into the ice. Spread open the top of the folded bag, then pour the brine over the turkey.

Fold up the sides, press out any excess air, the seal the bag. Fold over the top of the bag and completely cover bag with ice. You can brine a turkey in a large bucket, stockpot, or other large container, but it needs to stay in the refrigerator. Since most people don’t have that kind of room in the refrigerator, we recommend using a cooler. Also, you can just pour the cooled brine mixture over the turkey, seal the bags, and place the bags directly in the refrigerator instead of covering the bird in ice.

Check the temperature of the ice with a thermometer to make sure it registers 40 degrees or lower at all times so that bacteria can’t grown. Keep the cooler shut, and refill with ice as necessary.

Soak the turkey in the brining mixture around 24 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brining mixture and discard the brining mixture.

Brining Tips

Pay attention to the balance of salt in the brining mixture because too little salt won’t do any good and too much salt will make the turkey taste too salty.

Kosher salt works well for the brine because it dissolves more easily than table salt.

Use a fresh turkey instead of a frozen for brining because many of the frozen turkeys have already been injected with salty solutions. Well I have to say that finding a fresh turkey is impossible around here at least, so I did use frozen and I thawed it out a day ahead of putting it in the brine, I do use a little less salt than what I had found other people do though and last year it was delicious


Apple Cider-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy



8 cups apple cider

1/2 cup kosher salt

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed

8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger

6 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
you will also need:
1 large orange or 2 small oranges, quartered

6 cups ice this is to cool off the hot brine mixture that you will cook for a few minutes to mix everything

Remaining ingredients:
These go in and around the turkey
4 garlic cloves
4 sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 onion, quartered

1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 
                                                     This is the main ingredient for My Brine
If you really don't like cider you can use Apple Juice with the spices listed in the recipe

To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.

                                         Here is what the Brine looks like when it's simmering

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; and don't forget the gravy packet that come in some turkey's too. reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with a good twist tie. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 500º.
Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Savory Herb Gravy. Discard skin before serving; serve with gravy

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