Turkey day is only two days away, so you’re probably already busily plotting your Thanksgiving meal. If you want to ensure your turkey will emerge from the oven juicy and exceptionally delicious on the big day, give it a long soak in a seasoned saltwater brine. The salt penetrates deep into the meat, drawing in moisture while adding layers of flavor. Prepare the brine today, if possible, so it has plenty of time to cool thoroughly before you submerge your turkey in the brine tomorrow, about 24 hours before you begin cooking it.
Brined Roast Turkey
1 jar (1 lb. 2.2 oz./500 g) Apple & Spices Turkey Brine
1 fresh turkey, 16 to 18 lb. (8 to 9 kg), neck, heart and gizzard removed (reserved, if desired)
8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs. finely minced fresh thyme
1 Tbs. finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Prepare the turkey brine and brine the turkey according to the package instructions. Remove the turkey from the brine; discard the brine. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off and discard the excess fat. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).
In a small bowl, stir together the butter, thyme and parsley until well blended. Gently slide your fingers under the breast to loosen the skin and work your fingers down to the thigh, being careful not to tear the skin. Spread half of the butter mixture evenly under the skin, then spread the remaining butter evenly on the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle with the pepper. Truss the turkey as desired using kitchen twine.
Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C) and continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices.
If the breast begins to cook too quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. After about 2 hours of total
roasting time, begin testing for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh, away from the bone. The breast should register 165°F (74°C) and the thigh, 175°F (79°C). Total roasting time should be 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before
carving. If desired, reserve the pan drippings for making gravy. Serves 12 to 14.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen