I brine because I hate dry turkey. Throughout the year I brine various birds and pork before it hits the grill. I love juicy meat and brining is a great way to achieve that. Consider it a turkey slam dunk. Juicy flavorful bird and leftover turkey that is still moist well after the Christmas meal. For me the sammies after are almost as important as the actual meal.
My go to recipe for brining turky is Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey brine. It is the #1 searched recipe on the food network site. With good reason. It works. Always.
- 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Canola oil
Click here to see how it’s done.
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
*Personally I omit the ginger in the brine and the rosemary in the aromatics. I love rosemary in beef recipes but I am just not fond of it on turkey.
I also like to use butter and fresh sage leaves under the breast of the turkey to create a really lovely looking bird. It looks wonderful on the Christmas table decorated with additional apples and sage leaves on a large platter.
I bbq my turkey in a disposable pan on the Traeger or Egg. I like to capture the pan drippings & juices to form the base for my gravy. The temperature should be 450-500F to begin and then I lower it after the first 45 minutes to 275/300F. I like to use oak and hickory or apple and pecan pellets or wood chunks. I keep an eye on the color of the breast and if it starts to get a little dark I cover it with foil. Alternatively you can ice the breast first before it hits the grill. Fill up two Ziploc sandwich bags with ice and place on the breast leaving them there for an hour before you grill. This will significantly lower the temperature of the breast. The reason is pretty simple dark eat and white meat don’t necessarily finish at the same time. You want the breast to be 165F when finished and the dark meat to be 180F. Lowering the temp of the breast slows down its cooking time.
Heres a great video on how to carve a turkey:
I like to serve my turkey with whipped potatoes, my sweet potato casserole, grilled parsnips, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread, butter and another favorite of mine Stuffing Stuffed Acorn squash & Grilled Brussel sprouts:
Stuffing Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sage chips
4 medium acorn squash split in half and cleaned out
8 tablespoons butter
¼ lb bacon finely diced
1 medium onion finely diced
3 stalks celery finely chopped
8-12 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boxes commercial stuffing mix
Preheat grill for use indirect to 350 degrees F.
In a large disposable sheet pan (this will make clean up much easier) place the halves of squash . Place 1 tablespoon of butter in each half. Grill until the flesh is just starting to turn soft (approximately 1 hr)
Make commercial stuffing according to directions and set aside
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until brown and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon reserving fat in the pan. Add sage leaves and fry until the leaves are just starting to turn brown at the edges and remove to paper towels to drain. In the same skillet add the onions and celery, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
In a large bowl combine commercial stuffing mixture, onions, celery and bacon. Fill each cavity of the squash half with this mixture. Return to the grill to warm through. Approximately 20 minutes. Garnish each squash half with the fried sage leaves.
Grilled Brussel Sprouts
1 lb Brussel sprouts cleaned and trimmed
¼ cup butter melted
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 BBQ buddy™ pan
On a charcoal grill with a medium heat (300F) place bbq buddy ™ pan.
Fill with brussel sprouts and sprinkle on granulated garlic, salt & pepper.
Brush with butter. Turn after 5-10 minutes then brush with butter again.
Remove when brussel sprouts are just starting to turn soft (approx 15-20 minutes)
Garnish with sprigs of thyme.