Gluten Free Herb Brined Roasted Turkey
It’s time to start talking turkey! Turkey can make or break Thanksgiving dinner. Over the years, I have played around with the best way to get a beautifully browned, juicy turkey. I discovered that brining and proper roasting and basting techniques are the answer.
It all starts with the turkey you purchase. Did you know that some turkeys are actually injected with solutions that contain gluten? Be sure to look for a turkey that is antibiotic, hormone, and steroid free, contains no artificial ingredients, and no animal by-products. I recently discovered Joyce Farms Heritage Black Turkeys – this is without a doubt the best turkey I have ever tasted.
The Heritage Black Turkeys are an old breed, raised on a small family farm in North Carolina, processed by hand, air chilled – and all that time, attention is evident. These turkeys cook up tender, juicy, and so flavorful.
Next comes brining – I am a big believer! Start brining the turkey the day before. If you can’t fit the turkey in the refrigerator while it is brining, I find that employing the use of a cooler is the answer. The little bit of extra effort involved in brining results in a succulent, juicy turkey. You still have time to order your Joyce Farms Heritage Black Turkey.
In our family, the stuffing cooked inside the bird is considered the best. If you prefer to roast your turkey unstuffed, less time will be required for cooking.
To make life really simple, I use a disposable turkey roasting pan each year. The couple dollars I spend on the pan is well worth not having to wash the roasting pan.
- 12 cups water divided
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dried sage
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 bunch fresh sage leaves
- 4 cups ice
- 1 (14-pound) heritage turkey neck and giblets removed
- 1 cup unsalted butter or dairy free butter
- 2 cups Chardonnay wine
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper divided
- ¼ cup unsalted butter or dairy free butter at room temperature
- Gluten free stuffing of choice
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
The day before roasting the turkey, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the salt and sugar, and stir to dissolve. Add the apple cider vinegar, dried sage, thyme and rosemary, peppercorns, and fresh sage and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 5-gallon pot or bucket and add the remaining 8 cups of water and ice and let cool completely. Rinse the turkey and place breast side down in the brine. Place in the refrigerator or an ice chest (with ice in the chest) and brine the turkey for 12 – 18 hours.
The morning you plan to serve the turkey, remove it from the brine, rinse well with cold water (making sure to rinse the inside of the turkey as well), pat dry with paper towels (inside and out) and let the turkey sit for 30 minutes.
Melt 1 cup butter or dairy free butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the wine, and stir to combine.
Place the rack on the bottom level of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of pepper in the neck and large cavity of the turkey. Stuff both cavities lightly with as much stuffing as they hold but do not over pack. Rub the turkey with ¼ cup softened butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of pepper and the poultry seasoning. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side up, fold the wings under the bird, fold the neck flap under and secure with a toothpick and tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen string.
Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and soak in the wine and butter mixture. Gently squeeze out most of the liquid and lay it over the breast and halfway down the side of the turkey. Spoon or squirt some more butter/wine mixture onto the cheese cloth. Place in the oven, legs first, and cook for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey with more butter/wine mixture, reduce the oven temperature to 350, and cook for another 2 ½ hours, basting the turkey every 30 minutes with the butter/wine mixture. If too much liquid fills the roasting pan, remove it with a turkey baster and add it back to the butter/wine mixture.
Remove and discard the cheesecloth. Place the turkey back into the oven, breast side in. Baste again. Continue to roast for another 1 – 1½ hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees, basting every 30 minutes. If the breast starts to get too brown, loosely lay a piece of foil over it.
When the turkey is fully cooked, remove from the oven, place on a serving platter, and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 30 minutes before carving. Remove the toothpick and string, take the stuffing out of both cavities and place in a serving dish.
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