Have y'all ever brined a turkey before? I hadn't. However, I was exposed to brined turkey a few years ago during a Thanksgiving we did with friends in Maine and loved it! So I've been wanting to try it out and finally got up the nerve about a week ago. Turns out, it's crazy easy. :)
In a large pot, heat apple cider, orange peel, lemon peel, peppercorns, brown sugar, salt and herbs de provence (or you could substitute rosemary), to a simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat.
Pour in ice to cool the brine down.
As soon as the ice is melted, you can dunk your turkey into the brine. Make sure you give the turkey a good rinse beforehand though. Y'all know I have issues with bacteria and poultry. :)
Cover the turkey and brine. Refrigerate for 12-18 hours.
Remove turkey from brine and give it a light rinse under cold water.
Combine butter with herbs de provence.
Rub the butter underneath the skin of the turkey. This is a must. I'm fairly certain that if the pilgrims weren't busy with building homes and whatnot, they would have buttered their turkey.
Wait, did the pilgrims have butter? When was butter invented?
Anyhow, pour about 1/2 c. water into the bottom of the pan. Cover your turkey and throw it in the oven. Roast at 325 until the turkey is cooked through.
The roasted result. Towards the bottom you can really see the herbs from the herb butter.
Okay, can I just tell y'all that brined turkey is a revelation? Seriously. It's so easy and it keeps the turkey very moist. And the cider, citrus and herb flavors from the brine soak into the meat, especially the skin. Speaking of the skin, the herb butter makes it get crispy and golden brown while it's roasting. Perfect. I usually pull the skin off when it comes time to eat but this time around I left it on. :)
Apple Cider Brined Turkey
15-20 lb. turkey, thawed and rinsed
2 quarts apple cider
Peel from two oranges
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. kosher salt
2 tsp. herbs de provence (substitute rosemary)
8 c. ice
3-4 tbsp. softened butter
1 tsp. herbs de provence (substitute parsley)
In a large stock pot - big enough for the turkey - combine the cider, orange peels, lemon peel, peppercorns, brown sugar, salt and herbs de provence. Heat on your stovetop to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove the pan from the stovetop. Pour in the ice. When the ice has melted, drop your turkey into the stockpot.* Cover and refrigerate for 12-18 hours.
*If you're turkey is too big, pour the brine into your turkey roasting pan and place the turkey in, breast-side-down.
Remove the turkey from its brine. Rinse the turkey quickly under cold water. In a small bowl, combine butter and remaining herbs de provence. Rub the herb butter under the skin of the turkey breast.
Place the turkey in its roasting pan. Pour in 3/4 c. water on the bottom of the pan. Cover. Bake at 325 for the length of time specified or until the turkey is cooked through, removing the cover for the last 45 minutes and basting every 45-60 minutes:
8lbs = 2 1/2-3 hours 12lbs = 3-3 1/2 hours 14lbs. = 3 1/2 - 4 hours 18lbs. = 4 - 4 1/2 hours 20lbs. = 4 1/2 - 5 hours. 24lbs. = 5-5 1/2 hours.