Step 1: Take the time to brine.
In order to keep your turkey moist throughout the cooking process, we recommend brining. Brining before baking helps poultry absorb moisture, and retain it as it cooks. Brining will NOT make your turkey salty. Instead you are changing the molecular structure of the brining water by adding the element of sodium. Using the process of osmosis, the brining water will replace the natural moisture in the turkey and will stay put during the cooking process. In addition, you can use the brining solution as an easy way to infuse your turkey with additional flavors- hence the variance in brining recipes, you can absolutely experiment with different flavors- spices herbs, whole peppercorns, et al. Different liquids will also work as the added liquid but be sure to use water to make the initial saline solution. (All brine recipes are for a 20 lb. turkey)
In a stockpot over high heat, combine 2 quarts of the water with sugar and salt. Stir, until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Add the remaining water and refrigerate until ready to use or at least two hours.
In a stockpot over high heat, combine 2 quarts of water with salt. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in remaining quart of water, apple cider and maple syrup. Refrigerate until ready to use or at least two hours.
In a stockpot over high heat combine 2 quarts of water with salt and honey. Stir until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in remaining quart of water and vegetable broth. Refrigerate until ready to use or at least two hours.
Rinse the turkey well and remove anything from the cavity of the bird (internal organs, etc.).Open the brining bag and pour in the chilled brining liquid. Place the turkey in the brining bag and secure the bag tightly around the turkey, forcing the liquid to cover the outside of the bird. Place this bag in a roasting pan and place in the refrigerator. (The roasting pan will prevent the possibility of drippings from getting into the refrigerator). Allow turkey to brine at least 12 to 18 hours. When you’re ready to roast your turkey, remove it from the brining bag and rinse it well. Pat it dry with a paper towel and proceed with your roasting plans.
Step 2: Fill the cavity aromatics
There are many good reasons not to stuff a turkey, but one major reason is that the stuffing adds to your work without adding any additional flavor to your turkey. Instead, infuse your bird from the inside out with aromatics. Place the herbs, celery, carrots, apple, lemon zest, and garlic into the cavity of the bird, but do not fill the cavity until it is "stuffed." Give the aromatics room to breathe.
Step 3: Give your turkey a Thanksgiving rub down.
Mix your favorite herbs and seasonings into a softened stick of unsalted butter. Use your hands to evenly distribute the butter all over the turkey. You can even make a few small slits in the skin and smear butter into those openings as well.
Step 4: Get ready to roast.
Preheat the oven to 500°. Fold a large piece of aluminum foil into a triangular shape that will completely cover the breast meat. Fit this triangle over the breast meat of your bird and then remove it and spray the underside with cooking spray. Set your “turkey shield” aside.
Set the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan. Roast turkey for 30 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned. Remove the bird from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Place your aluminum foil turkey shield over the breast meat and insert your internal probe thermometer through the foil into the deepest part of the breast, making sure to avoid bone. If your thermometer has a notification option set it to notify you when the breast meat has reached 165° F (otherwise, just look through the oven door).
It is unnecessary to baste the turkey, as the turkey’s skin will prevent the basting from adding any additional moisture. Continuing to open the oven will also increase the cooking time, as the oven will lose heat-so don’t do it! A 20 lb. bird will cook using this method in about three hours. Once the thermometer registers 165°, remove the bird from the oven, tent it with additional aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes so that it will retain its juices. Carve and enjoy.
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