Brines can sometimes be a lot of hassle for very little flavor. Not this one. The apple cider permeates and moistens the turkey meat, and the bird emerges from the oven with a burnished gold skin.
In Advance: The turkey must be brined for 12 to 24 hours in advance of roasting.
Yield: (Makes enough for a 10- to 25-pound turkey)
- 8 cups unsweetened apple cider or juice
- 2/3 cup kosher salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 6 quarter-size slices unpeeled fresh ginger roots
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, crushed
- 6 cups ice-cold water
- 1 thawed turkey (10 to 25 pounds)
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 2 turkey-size plastic oven bags
Combine the cider or juice, salt, sugar, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and allspice in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes then remove from the heat. Add 4 cups of the cold water and stir. Cool to room temperature.
Have ready a heavy roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey. Place 1 plastic oven bag inside a second bag to create a double thickness. Place the double bags, open side up, in the roasting pan.
Remove the giblets and neck from the body and neck cavities of the turkey. Rinse the turkey in cold water, drain it and pat it dry with paper towels. Stuff the orange quarters into the main cavity of the turkey.
Fold back the top third of the double bags, making a collar to help keep the top of the bag open. Place the turkey inside the bags, stand it upright and pour the cool brine mixture into the inner bag and over the bird. Add the remaining 2 cups cold water and draw up the opening of the inner bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, then secure it closed with a twist tie. Repeat with the outer bag. Position the turkey on its breast in the roasting pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning the turkey 3 or 4 times while it is brining.
Just prior to roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the brine, bags, the oranges from inside the bird and any cured herbs or spices remaining outside the bird. Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. The turkey is now ready to be roasted.
From "The Thanksgiving Table" by Diane Morgan (Chronicle, 2001).
Tested by The Washington Post.
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