Brining is my favorite way to ensure a flavorful and juicy turkey. This year I decided to go with a new-to-me idea of using apple cider and fennel in the brine. The cider really enhances the natural sweetness in the turkey and makes for an ultra-juicy bird. You won’t be disappointed! To read my full turkey diatribe and find out why I never carve the turkey at the table, click here.
Brine for a 10 to 15 lb. turkey
- 1/2 C. Kosher salt
- 1 T. celery seed
- 1 T. mustard seeds
- 1 T. black peppercorns
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 750 ml. bottle of dry white wine
- 1/2 gallon apple cider (or unfiltered apple juice), not spiced, fresh if available
- 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 shallots, sliced
- cold water
- 1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
- 1 stick butter, melted.
In a small saucepan, heat the salt with 1 1/2 C. water and stir until the salt is dissolved. Set aside to cool. In a dry pan, gently heat the celery seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and star anise until you start to smell the spices. This helps to release some of the oils and will impart more flavor to the finished dish. In a pot big enough to hold your turkey (a plastic bag in a cooler works well if you don’t have a big enough pot) add the salt solution, the spices, the wine, the cider, the apples, the fennel, and the shallots. Stir to combine. Rinse your turkey, remove all the giblets, neck, etc. Pat it dry with a paper towel and immerse it in the brine solution. Add enough cold water to cover the bird. Put the whole thing into the fridge for at least 24 hours and up to 48.
To roast, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the turkey from the brine, pat it dry and place it into a roasting rack. Fish out some of the apple and fennel slices and put them inside the cavity of the turkey along with the fresh parsley. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the bird. Brush the turkey all over with the melted butter. Roast breast-side up for 30 minutes. Turn the turkey over and roast for the rest of the time upside down. This keeps the breast from drying out. Turn the heat down to 350 and roast for 1 1/2-2 hours longer, or until the juices in the thigh run clear. Baste every thirty to forty minutes. When the turkey is done, allow it to rest, tented with foil for at least 40 minutes to an hour. Your turkey will stay hot for an hour after removing it from the oven. Resting is VERY important. It is the difference between juicy and dry. Take a look at my turkey post for carving directions. I hope you love this brine as much as we did!