This was the first time ever that I cooked a turkey. Usually we spend Thanksgiving with family or friends and I always make most of the sides and desserts. However, this year, since Rex was sick, we had our first Thanksgiving at home. The night before Thanksgiving, I walked to Whole Foods in search of the smallest whole turkey. Luckily I found a fresh, 9 lb one. While it wasn’t organic, it was free range, hormone free, and antibiotic free. Next year, I’ll hopefully have more time to plan and can order a small, organic turkey from a nearby farm. I also picked up a brining kit (next year I’ll have to make my own brine – because it’s basically just salt and herbs). The brining directions say to brine the turkey for 1 hour per pound. Next time I will definitely follow these directions. I let our turkey brine for an extra 2 hours. While our turkey turned out to be quite moist and succulent and delicious (even the breast meat), I found it a tad salty. For detailed directions and a youtube video, check out turkeyperfect.com.
- 1 (9 lb.) fresh, free-range, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free turkey
- 1 package Fire & Flavor Turkey Perfect Herb Blend Brining Kit (available at Whole Foods) (Note: I only used half of the brine mix for my 9 lb. turkey. Follow the directions included on the package for a larger turkey, instead of my directions below.)
- 1.5 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2.5 quarts ice water
- 1 medium sized roasting pan
- Heat water in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 the brine mix and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add vinegar. Allow to cool for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove neck and giblets from inside turkey. With a knife, carefully cut a 3 inch slit on both sides of the turkey just under the thickest part of the breast – cutting the skin only, not through the meat. Place turkey, breast side down in the plastic brining bag included in the Fire & Flavor Turkey Perfect Herb Blend.. Brining Kit. Place bagged turkey in roasting pan for added support.
- Pour brine solution and ice water over turkey in plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal bag. Brine turkey for NO MORE than 9 hours (1 hour per 1 lb. of turkey).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Remove turkey from brine; carefully straining out leftover herbs/spices from the brine solution. Make sure you remove all the brine solution from the turkey cavity. Remove turkey from the bag. Place in roasting pan. Brush turkey lightly with oil and strained herbs/spices. If you are not stuffing your turkey, cover up the cavity (I didn’t have any twine or pins, so I stuffed the cavity opening with aluminum foil).
- Roast turkey for 2 3/4 to 3 hours (about 15-20 minutes per pound), or until temperature gauge (the turkey came with one – see picture above) pops (Note: if you have a meat thermometer use it. I didn’t have one and didn’t have time to buy one.) or until a meat thermometer that is inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F and the innermost part of the thigh reads 180° F. Do not touch bone when inserting the thermometer.).
- Let turkey rest, partially covered with aluminum foil (don’t cover it completely, or else turkey will continue to cook, make sure there are quite a few places where steam can escape), for 20 minutes.
- Carve turkey. Check out this youtube video for instructions on how to carve a turkey from cooking.com.