Until this year, I'd never brined a turkey. My normal MO for that fowl is to whip up some herbed or spiced butter and go to town with an injector. It works well. But so many people rave about the brining method that I decided to try it.
Well…it was good. But no better than my other method, which, I might add, was substantially easier and took far less time. So next year, I'll go back to that. But brining was a worthy experiment, and because it was an experiment and my first try, I resisted my inclination to make it up as I went. I used the cider brining and glaze technique on epicurious, just to give credit where credit is due.
3 cups cider
1.5 cups salt
5 bay leaves
1 turkey-mine was 10 lbs, fresh, and free range organic
1 tbsp butter
The day before you intend to cook the turkey, make the brine. In a large stockpot, heat 2 cups of cider, the salt, and bay leaves on low until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Now add cold water to fill about halfway. This should make the overall temperature of the liquid and pot cool, but if it doesn't, let it cool before proceeding any further.
Rinse the turkey and remove disgusting entrails/giblets/gizzard. Plop into the stockpot. If the liquid doesn't cover it, add more water until completely submerged.
Pop in the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove from the brine and rinse THOROUGHLY. Discard the brine juice. Line your roasting pan with paper towels, pop the turkey on top of them, and refrigerate again for several hours before cooking.
Now take the turkey back out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your stuffing and stuff it inside the turkey's body cavity. It's ok to pack it in-it's so much better baked inside the bird, so why not maximize the deliciousness? Then pop the turkey in the oven.
When the turkey has been cooking for about 45 minutes, it's time to make the glaze. Simmer 1 cup cider in a small saucepan until reduced in volume by about 75%. This will take about 15 minutes.
Now add the butter, remove from heat, and stir vigorously until butter is melted and combined with the cider. There you have your glaze. Now take the turkey out of the oven and brush about half the glaze on. Reserve the rest. If you buy a bigger bird than I have, you may need to double the glaze you make.
Put the turkey back in the oven. Watch it carefully. After the skin gets golden, cover it with aluminum foil to keep it from burning. Also, if the turkey is not dripping sufficient fat to keep the glaze that drips onto the bottom of the pan from burning, add water to the pan every half hour or so. You do NOT want that stuff to burn, I'm telling you. It will ruin your pan.
After an hour passes from the first glazing, take the turkey out and glaze it again. Then put it back and keep roasting until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. Mine took about 4 hours, what with all the glazing and fussing with it that I did.
Now take that gobbler out. Keep it covered and let it rest for 30 minutes.
A glazed bird does look pretty, does it not?
And even yummier on the plate…