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Never- Fail Basic Brining Recipe

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“No more dry, flavourless turkey! Make sure your next holiday turkey is moist and flavourful, with a crisp, golden skin! Here is the brining recipe I use. I got this from the TV Show "America's Test Kitchen" about 8 years ago and it has never failed me. This method works best with a 12 to 14 lb turkey because the smaller turkeys cook more evenly than large birds. The taste has never been salty and the breast meat is very juicy; you could shave it if you wanted! The preparation time includes the brining and "drying" time. Edited to add: For planning purposes, I usually start the brining process approximately 24 hours prior to my planned serving time ie: 4:00 pm Saturday afternoon for a Sunday evening dinner. The turkey can be cooked and carved earlier in the day or timed to finish so you can carve at the table. NOTE: The turkey must be roasted unstuffed. With this method of cooking the internal temperature of the stuffing will not get hot enough to kill any bacteria that may be present. Prepare your dressing separately.”
16hrs 30mins

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Dissolve salt and sugar in water in a large stockpot or clean bucket.
  2. Remove neck and giblets and use to make gravy stock, if desired.
  3. Thoroughly rinse turkey under cool running water. Immerse the bird in the prepared brining solution and refrigerate or set in very cool (40 F or less) spot for 4 to 6 hours. (4 hours for small bird, 6 hours for larger bird).
  4. Remove turkey from brine and discard solution. Rinse both cavities and skin under cool running water for several minutes until all traces of salt are gone.
  5. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
  6. Place turkey on meat rack set over rimmed sheet pan. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, and air-dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  8. Toss 1/3 of the thyme sprigs, chopped onion, carrot and celery in the body cavity of the turkey and scatter the rest in the bottom of your pan, along with 1 cup water. Bring turkey legs together and perform a simple truss.
  9. Set V rack in roasting pan, brush breast side with melted butter and place turkey breast side down. Brush the underside of the bird with the remaining melted butter.
  10. Roast breast side down for 45 minutes.
  11. With wad of paper towelling in each hand, turn turkey, leg/thigh side up, baste with pan juices, return to oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  12. Turn turkey other side up and baste again. Return to oven and roast another 15 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven a final time, turn breast side up, baste again, and roast turkey until breast registers about 165 F and thigh registers 170 - 175 F (another 30 to 45 minutes).
  14. Remove from roasting pan onto cutting board or serving platter. Let rest, covered with tin foil, for at least 15 minutes before carving.
  15. Use pan juices to make gravy.

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