Are you hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving or Christmas this year? Set your holiday table with a gorgeous, flavorful turkey in just three easy steps! With these 3 easy steps, you'll know how to make a brine for your turkey, which is the secret to getting a moist, juicy and flavorful bird every time!
STEP 1: Prepare your turkey and brine
Start by defrosting your turkey. If you’re making Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, you’ll likely need to take your turkey out of the freezer by Sunday. Depending on the weight of your bird, it will need at least 48 hours to defrost, if not more. Check the label of your turkey, along with the weight to see how long it will take to defrost. My turkey was 12 lbs and took about 2 1/2 days, not counting time in the brine.
Prepare the brine. There are lots of great brine mixes out there. Williams-Sonoma makes a great brine mix, and Urban Accents also makes a nice all-in-one brine kit that includes the brine mix, brining bag and turkey seasoning. You can also make your own at home – the primary ingredient is salt, along with other seasonings like rosemary and sage. Customize it to your tastes by including things like orange rind, cloves, onion, garlic and even chopped apples. The brine not only acts as a tenderizing agent, but also flavors the meat nicely. I firmly believe this is the way to a truly juicy, flavorful turkey!
Once you have your brine, you’ll need to boil it to dissolve all the salt. Then, let it cool completely, and add more water. (Follow the directions on the brine package.) You can also add apple cider, beer or even wine for a nice flavor. When your brine is completely cool, you’ll pour it over your turkey into a large brining bag. (A brining bag is like a huge zip-lock plastic bag, big enough to hold a turkey. They can be found at most grocery stores, especially during the holidays.) From here, seal up the bag with the turkey and brine and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
STEP 2: Prepare your turkey to roast
Once you’re ready to roast your turkey, you’ll need to do just a few things to get it prepped for the oven. First, you’ll need to thoroughly rinse your bird after taking it out of the brine. (Discard the brine and the bag.) As you can see in the picture above, I laid some old towels in the sink so the turkey wouldn’t slip as much. Rinse it well, making sure to rinse the turkey inside and out. From there, transfer the turkey into a roasting pan, and pat dry with paper towels. Next, drizzle the turkey with olive oil and rub all over the skin – this will help it attain a nice golden brown color. Lastly, lightly season the skin with the seasoning of your choice – you can go with a poultry seasoning, or add whatever fits your tastes. I added a light sprinkling of rosemary, sage and pepper.
STEP 3: Roast your bird!
This is the easy part. Simply put the bird in the oven and let the warm aromas fill your house. When deciding how long to cook your bird, check the label and weight of your turkey for the cook time duration. This will depend primarily on the weight of the turkey. I cooked mine at 325 degrees, and with it being about 12 lbs, it roasted for about three hours. It will need to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Once its done cooking, let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before cutting. This will help the juices settle and ensure a moist cut of meat. Garnish with some pretty herbs like rosemary sprigs, thyme or sage. Add in a few apples, pears or grapes for some color.
And there you have it! The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a flavorful, delicious turkey. With some preparation and planning, you can have one of the most flavorful turkey’s that your family has ever tasted. From our family to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!