One Bird the President Didn’t Pardon
The talk around town in November was mostly politics, but after the election, people started talking turkey.
The thought of using a self basting or kosher turkey did not appeal to me, I’ve never liked taking too many short cuts, I find it ruins the fun. But I had heard a lot of talk about brining and how it cut cooking time down and made the turkey universally moist.
I did a bit of research, reading magazines and online articles and finally I got the basic formula: one cup of salt per one gallon of water. Salt and water seemed pretty boring so I researched further. Recipes for brine were a dime a dozen, some made sense while others were downright bizarre. Finally, I decided I wanted my brine to give my turkey a little more than a salt bath and came up with my own recipe based on that one cup – one gallon ratio
I started out with a half gallon of water in a large pot. I added two cups of salt and one cup of brown sugar. I brought it to a boil and kept it on just long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. Next, I dropped in some peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, and some thyme.
Finding a container big enough to hold a fourteen pound turkey and enough brine to cover it wasn’t much of a task. I just so happened to have a five-gallon bucket that I used for home brewing.
I poured the slightly cooled liquid into the bucket, topped it off with another half gallon of water, and added a couple trays of ice cubes to hasten cooling. I then added one gallon of apple cider and one cup apple cider vinegar. I placed my turkey into the liquid, completely covered and let it brine away in the fridge for eighteen hours.
The Big Day
On Thanksgiving morning I preheated my oven, pulled the bird out of its salt soaked slumber, rinsed it off, and patted it dry. I stuffed the bird with stuffing that I had pre-cooked that morning and found a suitable roasting pan. Twenty minutes per pound was what I had heard for roasting a brined turkey and I factored in an additional twenty minutes for the stuffing.
I roasted the foil-covered turkey at 400F for the first three and a half hours, basting it every half hour. In its last hour, I removed the foil, turned the heat down to 375F degrees and brushed a honey mustard glaze on it. I let it rest about thirty minutes so that the juices could settle and then it was carving time.
My first reaction was “Wow it slices like butter!” The reaction of my dinner guests said it all—this turkey was different from its grainy, bone dry predecessors—this bird had taste! Safe to say I’m sold on brining.