Last year was the first time I ever heard of such a thing as brined turkey. Yes, I am behind the times. Let me explain.
It has been about 12 years since I've cooked a turkey for any reason, including holidays. We have been potlucking Thanksgiving for years now, and my usual contribution has been Crown Roast of Lamb and my mom's giblet stuffing. And pies, of course.
For many different reasons we ended up celebrating Thanksgiving this year by ourselves. It was a nice change of pace - no place to rush off to, no food to try to keep warm or cook elsewhere, etc. We even stayed in our pajamas for about half the day.
Years ago, when I did attempt a turkey, it always ended up dry. This seems to be a common failing, as many of the turkeys we've eaten at various houses over the years were dry, as well. Smoking or barbecuing seems to help somewhat, but still not my favorite dish.
So, if I had my choice, I would have opted out of turkey this year, too - but Jim really wanted one. He didn't think it would seem like Thanksgiving without it.
Last year I saw Emeril demonstrate a brined turkey on Emeril Live. It sounded so interested I copied down the recipe. This was the perfect opportunity to try it out - no guests to be embarrassed if it failed (I love opportunities to experiment, and fortunately my family doesn't mind them either).
I brined the turkey for approximately 20 hours, using my large stockpot. This is what it looked like when I took it out of the fridge:
Per Emeril's recipe, I roasted it breast side down for one hour, then breast side up for 1 1/2 hours. I thought it would take much longer as this turkey was almost 13 pounds, but the thermometer was already registering 170F at 2 1/2 hours total. This is how it looked when I took it out of the oven:
I covered it with foil while I cooked the remaining dishes, which took approximately one hour. We carved it at the table, and it was still very warm. Jim remarked on how juicy it was when he carved it.
It was delicious! We all remarked that it tasted similar to those delicious rotisserie chickens from Costco that we love. It was definite the most juicy and tasty turkey I've ever had.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. I think at our next holiday potluck I'll be volunteering to bring the turkey!