I opted for this recipe off of The Food Network, and it turned out fantastic.
I was a little nervous about brining because I had never done it before, but it turned out great -- the meat just fell off the bone which was something I (and my Dad who is a Thanksgiving turkey veteran) had never seen before.
yield: one 16-20 lb turkey
2 gallons water
2C apple cider
1½C sea salt
2C brown sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 bay leaves
4 tbs black peppercorns
1/4C fresh rosemary
2 oranges, peeled (keep the peels!)
1 (16-20lb) turkey
1 stick butter, softened
3 tbs minced fresh rosemary leaves
zest of 1 orange
- for brine: Combine the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat.
- Cover pot and allow mixture to come to room temperature.
- Cool mixture in the fridge until you're ready.
- for turkey: Remove the turkey from the wrapper and remove the interior bags.
- Place the turkey in a plastic bringing bag or a very large pot.
- Pour cooled brine mixture over the top of the turkey, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey.
- Seal the bag or cover the pot, allow turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16-24 hours before roasting.
- Before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine.
- Discard brine.
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Truss the bird (tie the legs together -- this was already done for me) and place it breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan.
- Stuff the turkey cavity with the two peeled oranges.
- Cover the turkey tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.
- Make sure the roasting pan is completely covered.
- Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes per pound. (My 16 lb turkey roasted for 2 hours and 40 minutes).
- Remove the turkey from the oven.
- Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
- Remove the aluminum foil from the turkey.
- Mix the softened butter with the rosemary and orange peel.
- Rub butter mixture all over the skin of the turkey, making sure the entire turkey is covered.
- Place the turkey, uncovered, back into the oven.
- Continue roasting the turkey, basting with butter every 15 minutes, for one hour.*
- Remove turkey from the oven and cover with foil until you are ready to carve and serve.
- Remove the oranges from the turkey before carving.
- Reserve pan juices to make gravy if you so desire (I did not).
*The original recipe says every 30 minutes until the meat thermometer reaches 170°F and the juices run clear. I don't know about the juices but the thermometer included with my turkey popped during the first run in the oven, and the meat thermometer measured way over 170°F mark by the first 15 minute basting session. I let it cook uncovered for 1 hour and it was perfect, so that is my recommendation.