Photo of PW's turkey -- ours was demolished before it's photo op
I know it's December but we're revisiting Thanksgiving in my house today. I bought a 16 lb turkey for $5 and my husband was excited until he saw the generic-brand label. Let me just say that you can purchase the cheapest turkey in the store and with this brine recipe it will taste great! (I originally typed 'amazing' but I wonder what a fresh turkey would taste like with this brine. Too bad I'll never know...) Since it's snowy yet not below freezing we put our brine/turkey in a large covered bucket and set it on our porch overnight. Luckily our bird didn't freeze by morning. This is to die for turkey brine!! I think we will brine our turkeys from now on. The meat was so tender and juicy it just fell off the bones. Mmmm...now I get to eat leftovers!!
PW’s Homemade Turkey Brine (This is enough for a 20-lb turkey; you can decrease the quantity for a smaller bird.)
2 gallons water
2 cups apple juice
2 cups kosher salt (can decrease to 1 1/2 cups if you’re concerned about salt)
2 cups brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoons dried rosemary
Peel of 2 oranges (I just roughly slice off the orange part of the peel (not much white pith) with a sharp knife, then give it a rough chop to release all the citrus-y wonderfulness)
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.
To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove gross bags, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag (available at many kitchen shops, maybe even stores like Target) OR a very large pot. Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.
Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.
PW's IMPORTANT BRINE NOTE: I forgot to mention that when you brine your turkey, the drippings are quite salty. For this reason, it is VERY important that you use a no-sodium (or low-sodium) chicken broth when you make the turkey gravy. Also, I often will cut the drippings with the giblet water to decrease the saltiness. Also, many frozen turkeys are injected with a sodium solution—it’s best NOT to brine these turkeys! Brining fresh turkeys is the way to go.
*Jayne's notes: We did brine a store bought, sodium injected turkey, but it tasted great being brined. Our gravy was salty so I will dilute it even more next time, although my husband liked it and he didn't think it was too salty.