I’ve been a brining convert for the last few years. I find that it helps deal with a few of the oopses that can occur when cooking a very large bird. Brining fills the meat with flavor, no worries about missing a spot when seasoning. It helps keep the turkey moist and juicy — even if you leave it in the oven a tad too long. It helps make the skin crispy, too, as you don’t need to worry about baking bags and the like. Plus, you can kiss that baster goodbye because there’s still plenty of the juices left in the bird — you don’t have to continuously drizzle them back on. All that said, I do like to mix up the recipe each year so that the turkey on the Thanksgiving table keeps people oohing and ahhing. For 2012, I used a brine with lots of red ingredients, making for one beautifully roasted bird.
Drunk Ruby Turkey
4 cups (32 oz) cranberry juice
2 bottles red wine (I used a good quality boxed wine so I had extra, just in case.)
zest and juice from 4 oranges
zest and juice from 4 lemons
2 cups cranberries
4 stalks lemongrass, chopped
1/2 cup fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped (I ended up using a dried bunch that I had hung this summer.)
5 Tbsp. whole, mixed peppercorns
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
At least 8 hours before serving, place all ingredients in a stock pot that is large enough to hold the turkey and liquid. Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°.
Pour brining liquid through a sieve. Discard liquid and put solids in turkey cavity.
Place turkey, breast side up, in a large pan with a metal cooling rack set inside, and cook until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Turn the bird over 1 hour in so that juices drain into the breast and the entire turkey gets crispy.
Let the turkey rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.