Brined Roasted Turkey

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The brining process, water saturated with salt, is believed by some to be a favorable way to prepare turkey, resulting in a moister product. For centuries salt has been used in poultry and meat processing to add flavor and to provide extra moisture. During the soaking process the water is locked within the turkey. As the cooking process begins, the heat gels the proteins and forms a barrier to keep the liquids from escaping.

There is an additional large container required for the brining process, along with lots of space in a refrigerator. A large covered non-corrosive pan or stockpot (glass or stainless-steel) or food-safe plastic container (available from home-brew supply stores) is required for the soaking process.

Since brining does not preserve poultry, the turkey must be kept below 40 degrees F throughout the entire brining process. If refrigerator space is limited, the brining process should be done with the use of ice packs to ensure the turkey stays below 40 degrees F during the brining time.

A few other pointers:
Reduce the amount of salt in the turkey stock
Use unsalted butter in the meal preparation
A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check the internal temperature frequently during the last 30 minutes-45 minutes of cook time.
If the turkey is to be cooked at high temperatures (450 degrees F-500 degrees F), in the oven or on a grill, it is best to reduce the amount of salt by one-half and to use only a little sugar in the brine. These adjustments will prevent the turkey from browning too quickly.
Do not substitute equal amounts of kosher salt for the table salt, defined in the recipe below.


15 pound WHOLE TURKEY (not self-basting or kosher) thawed, giblets and neck removed
2 Cups Table salt (do not substitute equal amounts of kosher salt)
2 Gallons Water, icy cold
4 Cups Brown sugar
1/2 Cup Rosemary, dried
1 Onion, small, peeled and quartered
1 Carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks
4-6 Tablespoons Unsalted butter
As needed Fresh fruit for garnish


BRINING PROCEDURE: Rinse turkey in cool water.
In a very large clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot such as stainless steel or glass or a food-grade plastic container), mix salt and water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and spices, mix well until sugar dissolves.
Totally submerge poultry in solution and store, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Since brining does not preserve meat, the turkey must be kept below 40 degrees F throughout the entire brining process. Ice packs may also be used to keep turkey at a safe temperature of below 40 degrees F.
Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the interior and exterior of the turkey by placing it on a wire rack and setting both rack and turkey in a clean, empty sink. Use cool water from the spray hose and rub gently to release the salt and sugar from the turkey.
Pat skin and both interior cavities dry.
* NOTE: The ratio of water to salt is appropriate for a 15-pound turkey. If a larger or smaller turkey is brined, please calculate accordingly.
* *NOTE: Other combinations of herbs may be added including 6-8 bay leaves, 3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns. Or a spicy flavor may be achieved by the addition of 1 cup small dried red chile peppers.
ROASTING PROCEDURE: In the cavity of turkey, place onion, carrot and celery.
Brush turkey with melted butter.
Roast turkey, breast side down, in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste legs and back twice with melted butter.
Remove turkey from oven and protecting your hands, grasp turkey with several layers of clean paper towels at both ends, and turn turkey, breast side up.
Return turkey to oven and continue to roast, basting twice with pan dripping. Continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. NOTE: A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check the internal temperature frequently.
Remove turkey from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Transfer to a platter and garnish with fresh fruit.