This will be my 4th year of bringing our Thanksgiving turkey. It will give your turkey a moistness that will last until all the leftovers are gone. It stays juicy and tasty, even if you want to freeze the leftovers. I cannot recommend this enough!
When I first brined our bird, I looked up several recipes on how to do it. I kind of made up my own from them all. The main necessity is that you have Kosher salt, brown sugar, vegetable stock and ice water. You can add spices and flavorings, but I really don't think it adds much and it can get very pricey!
(this recipe is for a 14-16 pound bird and you can make more or less depending on how big your turkey is)
For the brine:
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 gallon ice water
Combine the salt, brown sugar and vegetable stock in a large pot. Bring it to a boil, dissolving all the solids. Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Then refrigerate until cold.
I usually brine my turkey for about 12 hours. You can find many places saying many different things on how long you should let your turkey sit in a brine. I've found that if I keep the salt content a little lower, I can keep the turkey in the brine a little longer. You just do not want it to sit so long that the salt starts to break down the meat.
On Wednesday, I will combine the brine with the ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey, breast side down in the bucket, cover and keep cold. (I usually keep it in the basement where it is cool, and I make sure there is ice in the water) Turn the turkey once in the middle of brining.
When you are ready to start cooking the turkey, take it out of the brine and rinse it with cold water. You can throw out the brine. Pat it down dry.
I will then season the outside and inside of the turkey with salt and pepper and then stuff it. Get some butter and smear it all over the outside of the turkey.
Here is a good tip: Before it even gets hot, get some aluminum foil and form it over the bird. Then take it off and put it in a safe place. When you need to cover the turkey, you won't have to mess with forming the foil on a hot turkey.
Start cooking it in a 450-500 degree oven, on the lowest rack of the oven, for 30 minutes. Then take the foil that you have already formed, and place it over the breast portion of the bird. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and insert meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and return to oven.
You want the thermometer to reach 161 degrees.
For turkeys up to 20 pounds, you will cook them 15 minutes per pound...so a total of about 4-1/2 hours. For larger birds, about 12 minutes a pound. If your turkey is stuffed, add on an extra 30 minutes.
When it is done, pull it out of the oven, keeping it covered. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving!