Brined Turkey

Brining makes turkey so juicy and flavorful you'll never roast a turkey without it again! Keep in mind you'll probably have to rearrange your refrigerator racks to accommodate the brining bucket. I suggest ding this before putting the turkey in the brine, with an empty bucket, just to confirm that it will fit in your fridge. (I speak from experience.)

I like to decorate the turkey platter with bunches of Roasted Grapes. They are beautiful and pretty yummy, too!

Brined Turkey
1 (14- to 16-pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 gallons water
4 cups ice cubes

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, cut into 6 wedges
1/2 onion, cut in to 6 wedges
1 head garlic, cut in half on its "equator"
1 cup water
1 sprig rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves, and water in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the pot from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

The night before: Combine the brine, water and ice in a 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 for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Arrange the oven racks to accommodate the turkey. 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. Add the aromatics and herbs to the turkey's cavity. 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 for 15 minutes before carving.

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