HomeRecipeHerb Brined Turkey

Herb Brined Turkey

Posted in : Holiday, Mains on by : Christine

This is a recipe I have cobbled together and perfected over many years.  I have taken techniques from Alton Brown and Martha Stewart to name drop a few. What I have managed to accomplish is a golden brown bird that is flavorful and always juicy. My greatest accolade for this recipe is from my former turkey hating boyfriend who now eats turkey (well mine anyway). 

Herb Brined Turkey
Print Recipe
Do not use a Butterball, Kosher or other type of self-basting turkey for this recipe as those are already infused with a saline solution (read the label). If it has a "pop-up" thermometer take it out before brining.
Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Herb Brined Turkey
Print Recipe
Do not use a Butterball, Kosher or other type of self-basting turkey for this recipe as those are already infused with a saline solution (read the label). If it has a "pop-up" thermometer take it out before brining.
Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Ingredients
Brine
Turkey Stuffing
Roasting Butter
Basting Butter
Servings:
Instructions
Brining
  1. I use a large cooler lined with several ice packs for this. If your refrigerator is large enough use that placing the bagged bird in a roasting pan.
  2. Mix stock, 3/4 of the water, salt and sugar in a large food grade bag or container just large enough to hold the bird. Stir until all the solids are dissolved, this will take a minute be patient. (Some recipes call for boiling the brine to do this, who has time to wait for it to boil and then cool?)
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and carefully submerge the turkey breast side down into brine. Add more water as needed to cover the bird. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible and knot the bag tightly. Place the bird in the cooler on top of the ice packs topped with more ice packs. Place a remote thermometer in the cooler with the probe resting just on top of the bird but not touching any of the ice packs to make sure things stay cool in there. Set the alarm for 40 degrees. Have some extra ice packs on hand to change out during the brining process if needed. If using your fridge place the bagged turkey in a foil roasting pan for easier handling and less cross contamination. Brine for 12-24 hours (see notes).
  4. Remove from brine and pat dry (do not rinse!) Pick off any peppercorns that are stuck to the bird (see notes). Let stand at room temp for 1 hour.
Roasting
  1. While turkey is waiting, preheat oven to 425*. Take butter out of fridge. Prep stuffing veggies and butters.
  2. When turkey has warmed up (1 hour), stuff the cavity with the apple, onion, lemon, celery, and thyme.
  3. Make the roasting butter by mixing one full stick of room temp butter with the thyme leaves and lemon juice. I use a hand mixer but you can use a fork or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease. Make sure they are as incorporated as you can get them. Gently loosen the turkey skin and stuff the butter evenly under the skin, don't forget the legs! If you like, place some thin lemon slices over the butter, under the skin. Truss the bird and place breast side up on a rack in the roasting pan.
  4. For the butter baste (yes more butter!) melt one full stick of butter with the white wine in a small sauce pan over very low heat. Soak a large piece of nicely folded cheese cloth in the liquid, one large enough to cover the turkey when doubled or tripled. Turn off the heat but leave on the stove so butter remains liquid. Once soaked place the cloth over the turkey, reserve the remaining wine butter to baste with.
  5. Roast the turkey at 425* for 30 minutes then baste using some of the wine butter mixture through the cheese cloth with a bulb baster or ladle. Reduce the oven temp to 350*. Continue roasting, basting every 30 -45 minutes with the wine butter mixture while it lasts then use pan drippings. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Remove cheese cloth 1/2 way through and rotate pan. Roast until internal temp of the bird is 160* how long will depend on the size of the bird. (14-16# bird approx 2-2.5 hrs - see notes)
  6. Let the turkey rest on the counter covered with foil for 15 - 30 min before carving.
  7. The pan juices may or may not be too salty to use for gravy. I have found that because of the butter/wine baste they are usually diluted enough to use or are ok with the addition of some chicken or vegetable stock. Taste, taste, taste!
Recipe Notes

If using a stock pot or other container than a bag to brine the bird make sure it is fully submerged in the liquid by placing a plate, pot lid or other suitable weight on it and cover.

Wrap the peppercorns and allspice in some cheese cloth or use a tea infuser. If not you will have to pick the corms off the bird.

Don't over brine the bird! If it sits longer than 24 hours it will not be the end of the world but the texture will start to degrade the longer it sits.

All you really need to brine a bird is saltwater. All the rest is just flavor so feel free to experiment.

Make sure you use unsalted butter the turkey has plenty!

 

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