Brining a Turkey

May 20, 2020
Created by Harmons
Serves 6-8
  • 2 1/2 gal cold water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, in pieces
  • 1 bu fresh thyme
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 whole allspice berries, crushed
  • 4 juniper berries, smashed

Use this brine for turkeys 14 pounds and more. The recipe may be halved or doubled; the important thing is to have enough brine to completely cover the turkey.

Place water in unscented garbage bag that can easily hold liquid and turkey. Add all ingredients and stir until sugar and salt dissolve, 1-2 minutes. Add turkey and leave in brine for 24 hours. If turkey floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in brine.

To roast: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter over skin. Sprinkle fresh ground black pepper over skin and in cavity. Tuck wing tips under, loosely truss legs and place turkey on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan. Tent breast with foil. Cook turkey, rotating roasting pan 180 degrees every 30 minutes. Roast for about 1 hour, remove foil and baste turkey with melted unsalted butter. Continue to roast, basting every 20 minutes, using more butter as needed.

Start checking internal temperature after about 1 hour by inserting an instant-read thermometer in the inner meatiest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. If legs or breast begin to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Roast until internal thigh temperature reaches 165 degrees. Total roasting time for a turkey up to 16 pounds should be about 2 to 2 3/4 hours. Let bird rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving.

Birds more than 16 pounds: Roast at 350 degrees. Cover the breast tightly with foil for the first half of the cooking time, then remove the foil and baste with broth every 30 minutes for the remainder of the time. An 18-pound bird should be done in 3-4 hours, or when the thigh temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Chez Panisse Restaurant, Berkeley, Calif.