The secret to a perfect and juicy Roast Turkey is the simple technique called ‘BRINING’ which in general, it’s literally submerging the whole turkey into salt water. The reason behind the brining of a turkey is to keep the turkey moist even after it was roasted. SCIENCE TALK: The muscle fibers of the turkey absorb liquid as you brine. It is said that some of this liquid gets lost in the process of roasting, but since the meat is in a sense of more juicy from the start, it would end up even juicier. While saying that, basically brining helps breaking down the protein in the muscle fibers.
So, here goes the step-by-step:
- Find a pot or a food container large enough to fit the whole turkey in. You can also use a huge zip-lock bag that could contain the turkey with the brine solution. Make sure it is big enough to fully submerged the turkey in the brine.
- Clear some space in the fridge to fit the pot/food container/turkey-filled zip lock bag in.
- Place turkey into the pot. Remove all giblets. You can keep them for future use such as making a turkey stock.
- You can add some dried aromatics if you like such as black peppercorns, dried bay leaves, lemon peels, thyme, oregano or sage. Rub them around the turkey.
- For a whole turkey, the brine concentration should be 2 cups of salt to 1 gallon of water (16 cups).
- Pour the brine solution over the turkey.
- Make sure the turkey is fully submerged. For back up, prepare additional brine solution just in case if needed to completely submerge the turkey in the container (pot).
- Cover and refrigerate the turkey. If the turkey floats, do weigh it down with something heavy like a plate.
- Brine the turkey for 12 to 24 hours.
- Rinse the turkey under cool water and pat dry. Do make sure to clean your sink thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination. Pat it dry with clean kitchen towel.
- (Optional) Dry your turkey for another 24 hours for crispier skin. Place the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan and loosely cover it with a plastic bag to avoid cross-contamination.
- Finally, roast the turkey as usual. REMINDER, do check your turkey early as ‘brined’ bird tends to cook a bit more quickly. Just cook the turkey as usual but do check the temperature an hour before the end of the estimated cooking time.
*You can refer to this website for a useful Turkey Cooking Time Guide
How to Know When a Turkey is Done and Ready to be Served:
Photo Credit: The Kitchn, 2017
- With a Thermometer – Stick the Thermometer on the meatiest part of the thigh and it’s done when it reads 75°C.
- Without a Thermometer – Pierce a hole in between the thigh and the breast part of the turkey and squeeze the juice out. If it’s ready, the juice should be CLEAR and NOT pink or red (blood) (Check video here)
That’s about it! It may seem complicated but you just have to try it first to find out. Not gonna lie, you’ll feel very proud for being able to roast your own turkey and be the HERO of your family’s Christmas Dinner table.