Apple and Herb Turkey Brine infuses wonderful flavor into the meat and helps keep it juicy while roasting. Plus, it's easy to prep ahead!Makes enough brine for a 20-pound turkey Inspired by my favorite commercial brine mixes.
Combine salt, sugar, herbs, spices, and apples in a large bowl. Mix can be made ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Brine the turkey
Combine brine mix and 1 quart apple cider in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring until salt is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.
In a large stock pot, stir together cold cider mixture with remaining 3 quarts apple cider and all of the cold water. Submerge turkey in the pot, or pour brine over turkey in a large brining bag (see brining tips below). Cover and let soak 8-12 hours.
Remove turkey from brine, rinse well inside and out, and dry with paper towels. Discard brining liquid. Follow your favorite roasting method, remembering to omit any salt added to the turkey.
Be sure to use a turkey that hasn't been "enhanced" or injected with broth or other flavorings.*Allergy note: pink peppercorns are related to cashews and can invoke a reaction in guests with tree nut allergies.
The turkey needs to be totally submerged in the brining liquid. Any non-reactive deep vessel (a huge bowl or deep pot) covered with plastic wrap will work for this.The turkey can be weighted down into the brine with a plate turned upside down and a large can. I like using the plastic brining bags available in most kitchen stores, turning the turkey in the bag halfway through the soak. My favorite have both zip tops and plastic clips for added peace of mind.I always place the bag in a large roasting pan in my refrigerator, just in case of leaks. (Having to stop what you're doing in the middle of Thanksgiving meal prep to scrub down a refrigerator for a brine spill is not fun; been there, done that, got the medal!)To brine a turkey breast (6-7 pounds) instead of a whole turkey, halve the recipe and reduce brining time to 5 hours.
How to Roast a Turkey:
I most often use a butter-soaked cheesecloth method such as this, as outlined by Martha Stewart.