I am the first to admit I don’t like turkey. My family doesn’t like turkey. We never have turkey unless we absolutely have to. I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve just googled this recipe, clicked on yours, and now you’re telling me you don’t like turkey?”. Actually, I am telling a small white lie here. I *didn’t* like turkey, but I do now. Thanks to this recipe.
We have tried everything in our house to get a perfectly juicy roast turkey. We have tried butter under the skin, covering it with bacon, cooking it in a bag, sticking it in the slow cooker all night and day, etc. But we have never tried brining a turkey. Remarkable, I know! It seems very popular in the States but apparently hasn’t gained lift-off here in the UK.
You can brine ANY meat really. Brining is when you marinate a piece of meat or fish in a salty solution for several days to make it juicier and tender. A biological process called “osmosis” (if I remember my A-level Biology coursework correctly) fills the cells up with water, breaking down the cell walls and increasing the meat’s ability to hold on to more of its juices.
If you have brined a turkey before, you’ll probably have a recipe you use every year, but here’s a gorgeous recipe that will give you a perfectly spiced turkey, filling your house with Christmassy smells. Pair it with my best ever crunchy roast potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce served warm.
Here’s what you’ll need to serve 7-10 people:
- 1 medium turkey (you can use this recipe for a smaller turkey and a larger one, just keep the brine mixture the same and add more water if you need)
- 4 strips of streaky bacon
- 2 large carrots
- 2 large onions
For the brine:
- 5 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 Star Anise
- 2 tbsp Mustard seeds
- 1/2 Grated nutmeg
- 2 large onions
- 2 large oranges
- 6 bay leaves
- Any herbs you have on hand – rosemary and thyme work well
- 1 bulb of garlic cut in half
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, sliced into rounds
- 125g salt
- 125g sugar
- 7-8 liters of water
For the turkey glaze:
- 4 tbsp of duck fat or butter
- 4 tbsp of maple syrup
- Put all of your brining ingredients in a big bucket – big enough to fit a whole turkey and place all of your spices, onions, oranges, herbs, sugar, salt, water, into the bucket and mix thoroughly with your hand/arm until it’s all combined. Remove the neck from the cavity and drop it into the water, and take out the bag of the innards for the gravy later.
- Leave the bucket in a cold place (Nigella famously leaves hers outside) with a firm lid for at least 12 hours.
- Take the turkey out 2 hours before you need it and dry it off completely.
- Place thickly-sliced onions, carrots and bay leaves into a roasting tray. Put the turkey on top and stuff the front-end of the turkey with your stuffing then tuck the excess skin underneath.
- Warm up the glaze mixture in a pan on low heat until liquid and brush onto the turkey, then cover with the bacon. More bacon the merrier, as I always say.
- Roast at 200 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees and cook it slowly for a further hour and a half.
- When the turkey is done – no blood secretion and your meat thermometer says it’s at least 72 degrees Celsius, rest for 2 hours.This is a mandatory step!
Be sure to check out my Christmas recipes – party food, cranberry sauce and more!
Make sure you save this recipe for the big day to your Pinterest Board below: