I have cooked a lot of turkeys in my days, with varying degrees of success and failure. I once cooked a turkey that literally completely fell apart once taken out of the oven. I know your thinking “well that was a moist bird, right?” Yeah, moist like a wet rag, you couldn’t even cut the thing. Another year I cooked a turkey and it was suck-the-moisture-outta-yo-mouth dry. That was probably the worst… ever.
I have however cooked some tasty turkeys too, so trying to keep that in my mind this year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to be
sure that my beautiful pastured turkey didn’t go to waste. Brining has been something that has worked nicely for moisture and flavor in the past so I was commited to brining my bird.
So when the girlie and I got out 20lb bird home from the farmer’s market the Saturday before Thanksgiving (an amazing bird from Wildwood Farm in Mineral, Va), we washed that baby up and planned the brine
On Monday, we got her in the brine… a bucket was the only thing that she fit in! The turkey had a good three days to brine (we flipped it each day).
Still, I wasn’t sure if the brine would make any difference because I have made brines before that didn’t really effect the taste much. So I was curious as to the ending flavor would be.
Because I was scared to death that I would destroy my baby, I decided to follow The Pioneer Woman’s turkey cooking instruction, aside of the butter coating. We used a cider reduction to coat the bird instead for browning.
As it turned out, we have about 10lbs of turkey still leftover and I don’t mind one bit. Our turkey came out more flavorful and delicious than ANY turkey I have ever cooked. I credit part of that to the Pioneer Woman, but the other- definitely the brining and cider reduction. You can totally taste the brine flavor in the meat, its amazing
- 1- 20 lb pasture raised turkey
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 C sea salt
- 2 T whole peppercorns
- 2 T whole allspice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 2 C apple cider
- 1/2 C raw honey
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1. In a large sauce pot, combine all brining ingredients over med-high heat.
- 2. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
- 3. When the brine is at room temperature pour it into a 5 gallon bucket.
- 4. Add the turkey and cover.
- 5. Refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning each day to be sure that the turkey brines evenly if it is not fully immersed.
- 6. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
- 7. While turkey sits, add glaze ingredients (cider, honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt) to a medium saucepan.
- 8. Blend together and simmer over low-medium heat for about 1 hour or until the glaze is reduced by at least half.
- 9. Set glaze aside to cool.
- 10. Rinse turkey thoroughly and pat dry.
- 11. Add the turkey to your roasting pan and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil.
- 12. Cook the turkey for 3.5 hours, covered.
- 13. Remove the turkey from the oven and remove foil.
- 14. Turn the oven heat up to 375 degrees and return the bird to the oven.
- 15. Allow it to cook, basting it with the cider glaze every 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees.
- 16. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover it again with the foil that was covering the pan and allow the bird to rest for at least 1 hour before cutting.
- 17. Carve and enjoy!