This Christmas, why not try an alternative to simply roasting the turkey. Brining does involve longer prep time, but can give a wonderfully crispy skin and succulent meat on Christmas day.
Serves Dependant on size of turkey but approx. 6-8 people Prep 24hrs 0 minutes Cook 24hrs (optional drying time), cook time dependant on size of bird but approx. 3hrs 30 minutes
1 whole turkey
6 ½ pints of water
275g Malden sea salt
2 Bay leaves
5 juniper berries
Peel from 2 oranges
Peel from 1 lemon
4 Allspice berries
Before undertaking the brining method make sure you have a pot or food-safe bucket sizeable enough to accommodate not only your turkey but all the other brining ingredients too. Equally you will need to have enough space in your fridge for said pot so perhaps use this as an opportune excuse to do a good clear out of the fridge!
Remove the giblets and any string from around the turkey and place into the pot. Surround the turkey with the bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, orange and lemon peel and the allspice berries.
To make the brine (essentially the water and salt mix) heat 1 & ½ pints of water gently until just warm (not boiling). Add all the salt and mix well until the salt is completely dissolved. All to cool leaving to go tepid.
Pour the salt water solution (brine) over the turkey and then pour the remaining water over the top of that, ensuring that your turkey is completely covered in liquid. Do not allow the turkey to float at all, if this occurs, place a plate or other relatively heavy item on top to weigh it down. Finally, cover the pot and put in the fridge for a minimum 12 hours and maximum of 24hrs.
When brining time is complete, remove the turkey from the brine solution, rinsing in cold water before patting dry with kitchen paper.
At this point you can decide to allow to dry for a further 24hrs which will mean you achieve a really crisp skin when roasting. Simply place on a roasting rack and cover the turkey loosely with a plastic bag or foil and leave in the fridge for a further 24hrs.
Finally, time to cook the turkey. Brined turkey normally takes slightly less time to roast so as a general rule of thumb, roast the turkey for 20mins in an oven at 180oc before turning the heat down to 160oc for the remaining cook time as appropriate for the weight of your bird. Do check the turkey around an hour before suggested cooking time is up as it may have cooked by this time. Always allow the turkey to rest, covered, for approx. 40mins before serving.
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