Well, this is a funny picture from a few years back of actually burning a turkey! This year I plan on brining the turkey first before cooking, and I’m confident that it’s going to turn out just right. But even if I do mess up somehow on Thanksgiving Day, I can assure you that my guests probably won’t even notice, and I certainly will not point out my boo boos. :)

The last few years, being out of town, I opted for a quick easy method to cook the turkey, but this year since we are home, it’s time to brine the bird again! I’ve tried several recipes in the past and they are all excellent.

Brining is the method that really makes the bird so tender and flavorful, moist and tasty.

What does it mean to brine a turkey?
It’s a way to enhance the flavor of a roasted turkey; a solution of salt and sugar or honey and seasonings/spices that you immerse the turkey into at least over night before roasting.

What if you don’t have space in the refrigerator to store it ahead of time?
Brine the turkey in a 5 gallon bucket for 8-16 hours, or in a refrigerator or cool place. As I mentioned in “planning” a stress-free TG, think ahead to refrigerator space or get coolers down from the attic.

Do you stuff a turkey that has been brined?
The brined turkey all shed a good amount of liquid in the roasting process that oversoaks the stuffing. You also have to guesstimate the amount of salt that will be lost with the fluid, so the stuffing ends up either too salty or not salty enough. For me? I’m cooking the dressing on the side.

My friend, Jenny, is coming over and we’re going to brine the bird together.

Orange-Spiced Brined Turkey
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 Tbs. whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8″ thick) sliced, peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
Fresh or frozen turkey (thawed)
3 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice

To prepare the brine, combine the first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.

Remove giblets and neck from the bird (reserve for gravy, if you plan to make it). Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Trim excess fat.

Stuff body of cavity with orange quarters.

Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag.

Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bag with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

How do you cook the bird?
Choose your favorite roasting method, but first remove turkey from bags and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags.

So that’s the scoop on brining and flavor. I think you’ll be surprised how tender and tasty this bird is when you pull it from the oven and serve it to your guests.

I’d love to hear your favorite way of cooking “the bird” for Thanksgiving?

(Recipe adapted slightly from an older Cooking Light magazine. Picture above – me and Abby about 5 years ago being silly.)