Turkey 101- Brining and High-Low Cooking!

 The secret is in the brining!

When you are done frying, grilling, flipping, dry brining and otherwise messing around with that big bird, try my tested, tried, and true method for wet brining and roasting! Brining and the high/low cooking technique is the trick to making the perfect turkey.

Everybody wants a perfect bird. I've made hundreds. The brine and High-Low heat technique is time tested and makes the best bird!

Ric's Turkey Brine

(You should ratio up to make enough to cover the bird entirely.)

Use a cooler to hold the turkey so that you can brine it over night. Clean it really well and line it with a trash bag or food-safe plastic if you are squeamish.  (Using a really big cooler? Increase ice accordingly to keep that bird at a safe temperature.)

1 gallon cold water   
1 5 lb bag of ice  (Left in the bag) *see note
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar         
10-12 allspice berries
15-20  peppercorns     
2 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs sage
one orange, halves and cut into slices

Stir the salt into the water to dissolve. Add all other ingredients and you've made the brine. 
Line a cooler with a plastic trash bag (this will keep your cooler from smelling like a bird later). 
Remove the neck, gizzards and other innards and refrigerate them, they are for the gravy!
Put the Turkey in the bag. Cover the turkey completely with brine and top with the bag of ice. Close the bag and the cooler. This will keep the dog out! I have brined my bird on my deck, and i covered my cooler with a couple of propane tanks to keep the critters out! 
You can brine for as short as two hours or as long as 36 hours. 12 hours or over night is optimum. Remove from brine and dry that bird well before seasoning and cooking.
Note: If you are brining the turkey the day of cooking for less than three hours, there is no need for the bag of ice! Just use cold water.

Ric Orlando's Basic Turkey Roasting Recipe

Make sure you have a cheap probe thermometer for this! It's crucial! (if you have an expensive high tech one, that will do as well.)

Massage the turkey with oil before seasoning. Then rub turkey with the following mix. You may not use all of it, but this rub makes for great skin!

1/2 cup kosher salt     
4 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons paprika 
2 tablespoons dry thyme
2 tablespoons sugar     
1/2 cup veg oil
Mix the dry ingredients well. Massage the turkey with the oil and rub the spice mix well into the entire bird, nooks and crannies, all, saving some to rub inside the cavity! ! 

Fill the cavity!
Sprinkle some salt into the cavity then fill it  with the following:
1 Apple, split in half 
1 Lemon, split in half 
1 onion, split in half
1 head of garlic, split in half
2-3 spring each of thyme, sage and parsley

Let turkey stand at room temperature for 30 minutes minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 500 F. Have a quick read thermometer and a kitchen timer handy.
This method should take about 12 minutes per pound or about 4 total hours for a 20 pound bird.

Put turkey back side down in a roasting pan–not on a rack or diced veggie mirepoix. (this will give you the best "deglaze" for making your gravy! See that recipe on this site too! )

Stage One- The browning.
Most recipes cll for cooking slowly first then cranking up the heat later. While this works ok, I find it flawed. The high heat at the end gets the protein strands racing too fast, resulting in tough meat. I do the opposite! Crank it first to brown it then cook it low and slow so the bird is nicely rested, tender and ridiculously juicy! 
Put turkey in the center of the oven. If you oven has a convection setting, turn it on now, but y=turn it off in the second stage of cooking.
Set timer for 30 minutes. When timer goes off, check turkey. You are looking for a golden brown skin and a nice sizzle in the pan. If it is still pale, reset timer for 15 more minutes. If it is still not golden, do it again. The goal at this stage is to have a turkey that looks perfectly cooked, though we know it is raw inside still.

Stage Two - Slow and low
When the skin does look golden brown (and the pan is doing that nice sizzle), reduce oven to 280 F and loosely cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Pour enough water into the pan so there's a 1/4 inch of liquid covering the bottom of it.

Set timer again, this time for about 15 minutes per pound.

When the timer goes off, check the internal temperature of the bird by putting the probe thermometer between the thigh and breast. When it reads 170-175 the bird is done. It will continue to cook as it rests and its internal temperature will increase by about 5%. Woo hoo!

Let the turkey stand for 30 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and use the juices in the pan to make amazing gravy!

Have a nice holiday! Be thankful, friends!

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