Over the years we have tried many different preparations for turkey. We've had them deep fried, BBQ'd, smoked, glazed, marinated, dry rubbed, high-heat roasted, and low-heat baked.
They have all been good but my family's love of turkey deserves great!
Our family unanimously agrees that great means it has to be brined. Something magical happens when you soak the bird in a supersaturated salt solution. Brining a turkey for 24 hours before cooking will increase the moisture content of the finished product regardless of your cooking method. It transforms the bird ever so gently without deteriorating the texture of the meat like a marinade. Since water is an excellent conductor of heat, your cooking time will be decreased by as much as 30-45 minutes over a non-brined bird.
Surprisingly, brining does not leave the bird salty. It is, however, incredibly important that you carefully dry the bird after brining and before cooking if you plan to use the drippings in your gravy. Additionally, brining allows you the opportunity to impart other delightful flavors gently into the bird.
Taking the time to properly brine your turkey is only the first step to having a perfectly prepared bird adorning your table.
Our preferred cooking method is to using an electric roaster. In fact we use an old one passed down from my husband's grandmother. There are many quality roasters on the market today. They can be used to prepare a variety of food year round. But, even if you only use it once a year for turkey, it is well worth the investment.
I gently place the bird on the rack that came with the roaster, add some additional seasonings, then dry roast at 500* for an hour. Then I add some chicken broth and red wine before reducing the temperature to 325* until done.
Finally, let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before slicing so the juices settle back into the turkey. Even jiggling the leg or wing during the resting period can result in a substantial loss of juice.
Click here for the Brine Recipe and cooking instructions.