the secret to a perfect turkey...

I did this blog post a couple of years ago and I like to share it every year. It's my how-to guide for brining a turkey. Food snobs all think they have the BEST SECRET TURKEY RECIPE EVERRRR and I'm sure they do....but this method is fool-proof for me, making the juiciest, most flavorful turkey ever. I prefer a fresh turkey, but this works great for frozen turkeys too. In fact, this year, we have a frozen turkey and I plan to start the brine wednesday afternoon...



Not everyone knows this about me, but I'm a pretty awesome cook :)

It's my 2nd love, next to photography, and I love Thanksgiving because it's one of the few times of the year that I really get to throw-down in the kitchen.  Most people love to EAT Thanksgiving dinner...I love to COOK it.

One thing that I have PERFECTED over the years is my Thanksgiving Turkey.  The secret is the BRINE... and now I want to share my recipe.  You gotta start early though... this needs at least 10 hours to be just right.


First, start with a fresh turkey.  Frozen is ok too, but make sure you let it thaw thoroughly and properly beforehand.  My turkey is 19lbs, but this recipe will work with any size bird:

I take out the neck and innards, and save for later.  I use it to make a broth for my Homemade Cornbread Dressing and Gravy.

I gather my ingredients (I use all fresh stuff):

3 stalks of celery

3-4 carrots

2 large onions

2 large oranges

1 bunch each of parsely, sage, rosemary, thyme (cue Simon & Garfunkel)

1 cup each of sugar and salt

3-4 tbs. butter

I roughly chop the veggies (celery, carrots and onion) and sautee...

I then add the sugar and salt to a LARGE pot... large enough to hold whatever size turkey you have.

Add 4-5 cups of hot water and STIR to dissolve the salt & sugar.

Then I use my hand to carefully separate the skin of the turkey from the muscle.  I SLOWLY and GENTLY stick my hand inside to separate the skin without tearing it.  I then put the butter (thin slices) and the about 1/3 of the fresh herbs between the skin and the muscle.


The herbs and butter REMAIN INSIDE once I roast the turkey.

Then, I stuff the cavity of the turkey with the remaining herbs, the other onion, cut up, and one quartered orange.  These things also remain inside the turkey when roasting.

Place the turkey in the pot and add enough water to cover.  Add the sauteed veggies and the other orange, thinly sliced.

Cover and refridgerate...

I leave this in the fridge overnight.  I put it in the fridge at 1:30pm and will roast my turkey tomorrow morning at about 9am.  The longer you let your turkey the brine, the better, but give it at least 10-12 hours.

Once I remove the turkey I do the following:

*drain the turkey and allow to sit on the kitchen counter for an hour before placing in the oven.  It cooks better when its brought to room temperature before placing in hot oven.

*leave veggies and herbs inside the turkey...sometimes I add more!

*roast at 325ºF for however long your Turkey requires to roast...

*I cover my turkey while roasting, and remove the cover for the final hour of cook time so it can get brown.

*allow 20 minutes to rest before slicing!