Okay, so it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we’re just past Easter, so let’s just face that I will never get a turkey recipe up in advance of the holiday. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? I love oven roasted turkey. Sadly I don’t have it but a few times a year because hubs prefers ham, and frankly, a whole turkey is a lot, even for me. I’ve made it a personal quest to create the perfect, juicy turkey, and I’ve done well enough over the last several years that turkey cooking duty falls to me for all holidays. Hence why I have this one to show you from Easter.
There is one, very important key to a juicy turkey. BRINING.
If you’re not a Food Network junkie, you may never have heard of brining. It’s kinda like marinating, wherein the meat is soaked in a brine before cooking. The point is to impart extra moisture into the meat. You can read about the science of it here on Wikipedia. It’s also an opportunity to impart extra flavor into your meat, depending on what you use. The central feature of any brine (no matter what else gets added) is that you start with water and salt. You can read about the basics of brining poultry here. My brine is a little bit different.
I use beer.
I know, weird, right? Here’s the thing. I love beer IN STUFF, I just don’t like to drink it. It makes great bread and a fantastic turkey. So here we go.
- 1 large bucket (mine is 3 gallons)
- 3 small trash bags (bigger than Walmart sacks but not not the giant ones)
- 1 turkey (you can use a breast or the whole bird…mine was a 14 pounder)
- 4 beers of your preference (I like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Blue Moon…they’re nice and yeasty and mild)
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup table salt
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- fresh black pepper
- 1 cup of water
- Be sure your bucket is scrubbed clean.
- Layer the trash bags one inside the other, with the excess folded over the lip of the bucket. You’ll be tying each of them individually after you’ve got the turkey and brine inside.
- Rinse your turkey. Place it in the lined bucket.
- Add the beer.
- Add the garlic.
- In a large measuring cup (like 4 cups) add the sugar and salt and top it off with warm water.
- Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Add this mixture to the bucket.
- If you need to add more water so that the liquid covers your turkey most of the way to the top, go ahead.
- Tie off each bag individually and pop it in your fridge.
- There’s no hard and fast rule for how long you should brine a turkey. I usually do mine overnight.
- On cooking day, you’ll want to pull the turkey from the brine (definitely use a sink or you’ll make a mess) and plop it into a roasting pan.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Then you’ll want to reach into the rear cavity of the bird where that big flap of skin is, and carefully loosen the skin from the meat. Be sure not to REMOVE IT. You’re just making room to shove some things beneath the skin.
- You can use butter or olive oil (your choice). For this particular bird, I used olive oil, as it’s what I had on hand. I rubbed it all over the meat beneath the skin, then added a dollup to the outside of the bird and massaged it in well.
- Be sure to wash your hands a lot during this process between steps so you’re not spreading salmonella germs.
- Finish off the top of the bird with some fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
- Feel free to shove some fresh herbs beneath the skin if you’re so moved.
- Add a cup of water to the roasting pan.
- Cover the bird with foil.
- Bake covered for 90 minutes.
- Remove the foil, then bake the remainder of the time (you’re going for 15 minutes per pound here, so my 14 pounder took 3 and a half hours) to get the desired browning of the skin.
- Be sure and use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey. You want it to read 180 degrees to be sure that you’ve killed off all bacteria.
- When it’s finished, remove the turkey from the oven and re-cover it with foil.
- You’ll want to allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute.
- Then slice, serve, and ENJOY.