Apple and Sage Brined Turkey

Roast Turkey

The turkey is the centrepiece of Christmas dinner and I like to lavish a little extra love on it to ensure it turns out perfectly. I’ve kept the recipe the same for the past few years and it always turns out moist and flavourful. Why mess with a great thing? If you’ve never brined a turkey before, you should definitely give it a go. It’s one of those things that seems complicated, but really it only takes 15 – 20 minutes to throw together and the results are amazing. Basically, it’s a salt water solution, sometimes with a bit of sugar added. From there you can add whatever additional flavours you like. The trickiest part of the whole procedure is figuring out how or where to store your turkey while it’s brining. We have a turkey deep fryer so I usually use the pot from that, but you could use a cooler or buy a brining bag. Really, whatever works for you. Once you’ve brined, rinsed and patted your turkey dry, you can carry on with roasting it as you typically would.

Before I roast my turkey, I always add a little bit (or a lot) of white wine to the bottom of the pan. It makes a great addition to the drippings that I’ll be basting the turkey with and to the gravy, of course. One thing to be aware of when making your gravy from the drippings of a brined turkey is that sometimes it can be a bit too salty. I usually just add a little extra water (or sometimes a bit more wine) to the drippings and the gravy turns out great. You could also dilute the drippings with a turkey stock made using the neck and giblets of the turkey and a few veggies, such as onion, carrot, and celery.

One last note: I never stuff my turkey for the same reason as the gravy issue. The drippings fall into the cavity and can make the stuffing too salty. Unlike the gravy, though, there’s not much you can do to de-salt your stuffing.

1  15-18 lbs fresh turkey

Turkey Brine:

2 Cups coarse salt

14 Cups water

3 cinnamon sticks

12 cloves

1/2 Cup maple syrup

3 Litres apple juice

3 Oranges, quartered

1 Cup fresh sage

1 Cup of fresh thyme

In a large pot, bring the salt and 6 cups of water to a boil, stirring to blend. Reduce heat, add the cinnamon sticks and cloves and simmer gently for a few minutes. Stir in the maple syrup. Add the rest of the water and all the other remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Allow to cool completely

Pour the mixture into a large pot or cooler. Add the turkey and submerge completely making sure the liquid gets into the cavity. Cover and keep cool for 12 – 18 hours.

For roasting:

1 Cup dry white wine (or maybe a bit extra)

a good handful of fresh sage

4 or 5 cloves garlic, crushed

2 onion, quartered

2 lemons, quartered

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the turkey and rinse completely to remove the excess salt solution. Pat dry. Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Rub the top with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the sage, lemons, onions and garlic. Pour the wine into the bottom of the pan. Roast for about 15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature of the turkey at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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