Brined, Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
- 3 cups apple juice or cider
- 2 gallons water
- 1½ cups kosher salt
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- Leaves of 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp tricolor peppercorns
- 5 bay leaves
- Zest of 3 oranges, removed in strips with a peeler
- 1 (18- to 20-lb) turkey (save the neck and giblets for gravy)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- Zest of 1 orange, removed in strips with a peeler and thinly sliced
- Leaves of 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine all brine ingredients in a very large pot. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely. Put turkey in another very large pot or brining bag and pour cooled brine solution right over turkey. If turkey needs more liquid to be submerged, add up to 6 cups cold water. Seal bag or cover pot tightly and refrigerate 16 to 18 hours. If turkey is not fully submerged, flip it halfway through process. (I put the brining bag into a large stainless bowl, just to keep it in place!)
Put turkey in sink and discard brine. Rinse turkey with cold water inside and out, then fill sink with clean, cold water and soak turkey 15 minutes to remove excess salt. Pat turkey dry.
Preheat oven to 275°F and position a rack on lowest level.
Put turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan, tucking wings under body. Cross legs and tie with kitchen string. Cover turkey with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure foil is tucked under pan. Roast turkey 10 minutes per pound (for a 20-lb turkey, roast about 3 hours, 20 minutes).
Meanwhile, make rosemary-citrus butter: Combine butter, orange zest, and rosemary in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove foil and smear rosemary-citrus butter all over skin of turkey. (Get in all the crevices! Tickle it a little!) Insert a meat thermometer into turkey thigh, increase oven temperature to 350°F, and put turkey back in oven, uncovered. Baste with juices and butter from bottom of pan every 30 minutes, and roast until thigh temperature registers 165°F. (For a 20-lb turkey, an additional 1 hour, 30 minutes to 2 hours, 30 minutes.)
Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let rest 15 to 20 minutes before serving. (Save drippings for gravy.)
Serves 12-16. Per 4 oz serving: 240 calories, 1g carbs, 31g protein, 11g fat, 90mg cholesterol, 350mg sodium, 0g fiber
About the Author
Find this recipe and more festive ideas in The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays ($30; Harper Collins).