The first thing to making a delicious turkey is to order a fresh bird from the meat department at the grocery store. I usually put in my order in mid-November and schedule to pick it up at least one day before the big day. I also try to get a 14-16 pound bird (enough to feed everyone and still have leftovers -because what is Thanksgiving without leftovers). Also for the brine, use Kosher salt.
Here's how to make your brine, based on Greg Atkinson's recipe.
1 14-16 pound turkey (fresh or thawed)
4 cups Kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 gallon boiling water
1 gallon ice
- Wash out a medium-sized cooler. Unwrap the turkey, remove all the giblets and wash it well; place the turkey in the cooler.
- Make the brine. Stir the kosher salt, brown sugar, and peppercorns into the boiling water and let it steep for 20 minutes. Stir in the ice water and continue stirring until the ice has melted. Pour the cold brine over the turkey and cover the cooler. Allow the turkey to soak for 12 to 24 hours - make sure that the bird stays cool (you can use gel packs for this purpose).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the turkey on a roasting pan and discard the brining solution. Roast the turkey until the thigh meat reads 180 degrees, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Cover the breast with aluminum foil during the last hour to prevent it from over browning. Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes prior to carving it.