For the last 3 years I have brined my Thanksgiving turkey, and I don't think I'll ever prepare a turkey any other way! Brining is soaking your bird in a salty mixture that leaves your turkey very juicy, moist, tender and full of flavor! And it's really easy. Make sure that you use a fresh, not frozen and NOT self-basted turkey. The self-basted ones have a salty stock that's injected in them that would make your brined turkey WAY too salty. A fresh, natural turkey works best. You can use brining bags, but those oven roasting bags for turkeys work really well, just double them up to it won't tear from the weight.
Here's what you need:
3 cups apple cider
2 gallons cold water
1 bunch of rosemary (strip the leaves off the sprigs)
1 bunch of fresh sage (also strip the leaves from the sprigs)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
4 T. peppercorns
6 whole bay leaves
the peel from 3 large oranges. (cut bottom off or orange, and cut the peelings off)
This will make enough brine for a 20 lb. turkey. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover. You are going to LOVE the aroma--it smells like the holidays!! Remove from stove and let it cool completely. I like to set it outside on the patio so it will cool faster, just make sure it cools completely. Now, here comes the tricky part, you might need help. Place uncooked, fresh, clean turkey on it's bottom in the oven bag, and pour the cooled mixture over the turkey, then twist the bag up and secure with a twist tie. You can place it in a large cooler or a large pot. The cooler works very well, because it frees up space in your refrigerator, just cover with some ice. Let the turkey sit in the brine for 15-24 hours. Flipping the turkey halfway through so it will brine evenly. I like to keep the cooler in the garage or out on the patio if it's cool where you are!
When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove from the brine and place in a sink or pot of clean, cold water. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, to remove the salt. Remove the bird from the water and pat dry with a paper towel and cook the way you normally do.