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How to cook the best turkey of your life!

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Whether you know your Christmas turkey recipe like the back of your hand or it’s your first time in charge of cooking up the festive lunch, I’m sure you’ll want to know a little secret to cooking THE best turkey of your life!?

We’ve all been there – the long hours lovingly cooking a turkey, basting it regularly to make sure it turns out perfectly only for it to come out dry as a bone. It’s heartbreaking. But we’ve learned about a life-changing tip, popular in America, that will put an end to dry turkey forever! It doesn’t involve braising it in coke or cooking it upside down- the secret is brine.

At its most basic brine is simply a solution of salt and water, which will already make a huge difference but, by adding a few extra ingredients you can add a little more flavour too. So what does brining do to the turkey?

  1. Seasons the meat all the way through, not just on the surface.
  2. It locks in moisture, plumps the poultry, and lightens the colour of the meat.
  3. The salt alters the skin quality, so it bakes to a crispy golden brown.

Who wouldn’t want all of that? So let’s get into the how. This recipe does take a bit of organisation and planning but relatively little effort for superior results. After the brining there is no need for further seasoning unless you want a real punch, so be easy on any extra salt.

Best ever turkey recipe

4.5 litres of warm water (more as needed)
400g brown sugar
270g sea salt
3 shallots, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons dried juniper berries (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 turkey (see instructions below regarding size)

 

Cooking instructions

  1. Place the warm water in a clean food container or cooler box. Add the brown sugar, salt, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Carefully submerge the turkey in the brine. Add up to an additional 2.25l of water to make sure the brine covers the turkey entirely.
    If using a food container, cover with the lid or cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days. If using a cooler, fill it with ice to keep the turkey cold for up to 3 days.
    The brine time should be determined based on the size of turkey. For a turkey that weighs 6.8kg or under, brine for 24 to 36 hours. For a turkey larger than 6.8kg, brine for up to 3 days. *If you want to brine a smaller turkey for a longer period of time, reduce the salt to 130g, so it is not overly seasoned.
  3. Before roasting, take the turkey out of the brine water and place on a rack for at least a couple of hours. Allow the turkey skin to dry thoroughly. Use paper towels to pat it dry if needed. You can place the roasting tin in the refrigerator if you want to give the turkey longer to dry. The dryer the skin, the better it browns. Drying it overnight is best.
  4. Once dry, rub the turkey skin thoroughly with butter. You could also stuff the turkey with herbs, but this is optional.
  5. Roast the turkey at 160°C for 15 minutes for every 450g. Roast uncovered for the first couple of hours, then tent with foil for the last hour to make sure the breast meat doesn’t overcook. When using a meat thermometer, the breast meat should be 70°C.
  6. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 25 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

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