Thanksgiving Tradition, Apple Brined Turkey

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Hands down, my Apple Brined Turkey recipe is an all time winner for a moist and flavorful turkey. Need more kitchen? If your oven is all jammed up – take it outdoors and grill it. Or, a Thanksgiving turkey solution: Cook 1 turkey in the oven and 1 on the grill.   

George’s Apple Brined Roasted Turkey

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Brining is an overnight process requiring TWO days preparation.

If preparing a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it in refrigerator well in advance. Brine the turkey in a large stockpot or a large food-safe-plastic bag.  The turkey needs to be completely submerged in brine, or you must turn turkey every couple hours. I prefer turkeys no larger than 12-14 pounds for best tenderness and flavor; and if grilling I have my butcher split the turkey for ease of brining and grilling. Cook additional turkeys if serving more than 12-14 people. As a guide, figure each pound of turkey on the bone feeds one person. 

STEP 1: First day

On the day prior to cooking: Brine for a 12-pound turkey; prepare a double brine recipe for larger turkey. 

Apple Brine Mixture

8 cups apple cider

1/4 cup Maple syrup

2/3 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

2 bay leaves

To prepare brine, combine ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely. 

STEP 2: First day

Add Flavor Ingredients to Apple Brine Mixture:

6 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half

1 onion, quartered

1 rib celery, chopped into two inch pieces

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & sliced

3 each sage leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme

4 cups ice

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for making gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters, ice, onion, ginger, sage, rosemary and thyme. Place turkey in a large stockpot or food-safe-plastic bag. Pour apple brine mixture over turkey. Depending on size of turkey refrigerate for 6 hours for a split turkey, or 12 hours for a whole 12 pound, turning occasionally. Add one-hour bringing time per additional pound of turkey.

Spice Rub

1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

To Roast:

1 yard kitchen twine

2 cups chicken broth or stock

4 Tablespoons butter

fresh ground black pepper

6 slices pancetta or bacon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine, discard brine and orange quarters. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. 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. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over, breast side up. Put turkey neck and giblets in pan. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper; lay slices of pancetta over breasts. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center meaty part of thigh registers 170º. 

Cover breast of turkey loosely with foil if it browns too quickly. Remove turkey from oven; let stand 30 minutes. Pour off drippings and remove turkey neck and giblets for gravy; cover turkey to keep warm. 

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