Cider-Brined Turkey with Herb Gravy
I still have nightmares about a thanksgiving turkey that was so dry, it took a quart of gravy just to choke it down.
Over the years of making the traditional turkey dinner for my family, I have tried multiple recipes, but this is the best one I’ve found.
The combination of the brine and slow roasting produces a juicy and flavorful bird that will leave your family and guests raving about it. It’s best to begin the brine process at least three days in advance, but even a single day of soaking will add flavor and juiciness.
Yes, it takes a little extra time, but I promise it is well worth it!
- 8 cups apple cider
- 2/3 cup kosher salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
- 8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
- 10 whole cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 6 cups ice
- 6 garlic cloves
- 6 sage leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.
- Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 500º.
- Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
- Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for gravy.