Easy, Juicy, Oven Roasted, Brined Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
I thought for sure everyone started their Thanksgiving turkey in a brine. To me, that is an easy way to guarantee (or almost guarantee) a juicy, flavorful Thanksgiving turkey when you roast it in the oven. Let me walk you through, step by step on how to thaw, brine and roast a delicious Thanksgiving turkey. Once you learn these few easy steps for my Thanksgiving turkey recipe, you will be all set to create delicious Thanksgiving memories around the table.
Thaw The Thanksgiving Turkey
If you want to read about my easy and safe way to thaw your Thanksgiving Turkey you are going to want to read about it in my post: How To Easily and Safely Thaw a Frozen Thanksgiving Turkey. Catchy title, isn’t it?
If you have never made a brine before and want a simple mixture to use you are going to want to check out my Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Dry Mix Recipe. It is just a few simple ingredients that will have a big impact on the flavors of your Thanksgiving turkey.
Brine The Turkey
The first thing you are going to want to do is to determine how much water you are going to need to make the brine deep enough to cover the turkey completely.
Instead of guessing, place your turkey, still in the packaging in a large stock pot. Please be sure to wash off the outside of the packaging of the turkey.
Fill with clean tap water until the turkey is submerged.
Remove the turkey from the water.
This way, when you are ready to place the turkey in the brine you don’t have a large over flow of brine, loosing all the flavors.
Remove the turkey from the packaging and remove the turkey neck and the bag of innards from the cavity of the turkey. We all have been to Thanksgiving dinner when someone has forgotten to remove these two items.
Don’t be that person.
Pour your brine salt, sugar and spices into the pot of measured water.
Be sure to stir until all the salt and sugars have dissolved completely.
Place your turkey back in the brine and cover with a lid.
Place your turkey and its brine in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours but preferably 12-18 hours.
Let’s Talk Turkey
While you are waiting for your turkey to get happy in its brine I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the turkey you are going to serve. The actual bird and where it comes from and how it is raised.
My family tries to be conscious of where our food comes from, how it is processed and how it goes from farm to plate. We support our local farmers markets when ever possible, we have a garden and we even keep chickens for eggs. We don’t raise turkeys because that would be a little bit awkward in our small residential neighborhood and it wouldn’t be fair to the turkey.
Turkeys are social animals and love to be around other turkeys. Birds of a feather, flock together and all that.
Shady Brook Farms, or Honeysuckle White if you are in the mid west and west coast, are a collection of over 700 independent family farmers who work to raise turkeys as simply as possible. I am one that believes that if we don’t have farms we won’t have food and want to small farmer to succeed. I was able to tour one of their farms this fall and it was wonderful to meet one of their farmers and his family. This farm is so family run that they only have one employee that is not a family member. This was not a big, corporate run farm.
I wish I could express to you the level of passion, love, care and attention to detail when it comes to the turkey’s well being. I will have more in a future post about my experience on the farm but I want you to know that when a turkey is a Shady Brook Farms turkey it is well cared for and comes from a farmer that is passionate about the birds they raise for your table.
No growth-promoting antibiotics
Shady Brook Farms do not use growth-promoting antibiotics in their birds and that was a huge sticking point with me. You can read all about why they feel this is best for their birds and their customers in this link.
This is the quote from the page that has me wanting to champion for Shady Brook Farms:
U.S. law prohibits the use of added hormones and steroids in poultry. U.S. law allows for the use of certain growth-promoting antibiotics in poultry as long as they are discontinued prior to processing and no residue remains in the poultry. Previously, it was common industry practice, and is still allowed by U.S. law, that certain antibiotics that had growth-promoting qualities were given in low doses to turkeys in their food for extended periods of time. Many companies still use these to speed turkeys to market. However, for Shady Brook Farms® turkey, we made a commitment to both human and animal health and chose to eliminate the use of all growth promotants in all of our turkeys beginning in 2014. Our veterinarians and farmers are committed to preserving the therapeutic benefits of antibiotics for disease treatment for humans and animals- antibiotics are used only when needed for the treatment or prevention of illness. We do not want to put antibiotic effectiveness at risk for the unnecessary purpose of promoting growth.
Back to the Thanksgiving turkey recipe
After your turkey has been taking a bath in its brine, remove it from the brine, discard the brine and place it in a roasting pan.
As a food blogger I know I am suppose to have a lovely roasting pan but the truth is, I don’t. I use a disposable pan. Basically because I don’t have room to store a large roasting pan.
I place the turkey in the pan with the back side down and then I tuck the wings under.
I think it gives it more stability, a wider stance to sit on when it comes to carving the bird.
Next, pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
I drizzle a bit of vegetable oil over the entire bird and give it a good rub down. The oil helps give it a gorgeous golden color and crisp skin. If you would like to use butter you are welcome to do that.
I leave this little ‘leg clamp’ in place. The legs are tied together and I don’t have to fuss with finding my kitchen twine and tying them together.
Gather a few aromatics.
- an apple
- an orange
- 3 springs of fresh rosemary
- 1 large bundle of fresh sage
Stuff all the aromatics in the cavity of the bird.
They are going to heat up as the bird cooks, releasing flavor and additional moisture to the bird.
Set your oven to 500 degrees and place your oven rack in the lowest position. Be aware that if you oven is anything like mine, it will burn off any of the drippings that might be on the bottom of the oven. I can tell you that I am usually setting off the kitchen smoke alarm at this point.
Cook your turkey at 500 for 30 minutes. This will give the skin a beautiful color and almost sear the turkey, keeping the delicious juices in the bird.
Lower the temperature to 350 and continue to cook your bird until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast is 165˚ F and dark meat is 175˚ F.
Carefully remove your beautifully roasted turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes. This allows for all the juices to redistribute throughout the bird. If you cut it right away you will see all the juices run out of the bird and all over your serving plate. You want the juices and flavor IN the meat, not on your serving plate.
I like to garnish my platter with what was used to create this delicious bird. I tucked in sliced apples, a few wedges of oranges, some sage and rosemary. I added cranberries for a pop of color and the whole bird is resting on a bed of kale,
I start with the breast meat but you might want to check out how the turkey farmers carve a bird:
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope my Thanksgiving turkey recipe and technique were helpful to you!
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