Thanksgiving Turkey: Roasting vs. Brining

Pick the style of cooking that is easiest for you because you are going to need more time for other things, not just the turkey.

Pick the style of cooking that is easiest for you because you are going to need more time for other things, not just the turkey.

Roasting vs. Brining. That is the Thanksgiving turkey question. Alas, while there’s no clear answer as to the better method of preparation, you can get excellent results with either method. It’s up to your personal taste and you preferred method of preparation.

Spiced Apple Brined Turkey

(Nancy Jaworski)

This brined turkey is perfect for the home smoker or grill cooking.  Be sure to use apple wood to bring out the yummy apple flavor!

Apple Brine For Turkey

  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (or substitute 3/4 cup Morton Kosher Salt or 1/2 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal)
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 3 oranges, quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve. Boil for one minute, remove from heat, let mixture come to room temperature, then refrigerate to 40°F.

In a large non-reactive container, combine the apple juice mixture with the remaining ingredients. When adding the oranges, squeeze each piece to release the juice into the container, then drop in the peel.

Put the turkey in the brine breast side down. Place a heavy plate or bowl on top to keep the bird submerged, if necessary.

Brine the turkey for 24 hours, then roast, grill or smoke.

Brining Tips

Since brining does not preserve meat, the turkey and the brine solution must be kept below 40°F throughout the entire brining process.  A good way to do this is to put the turkey in a cooler slightly larger than the bird.  Instead of the three quarts of water, add only enough to cover the bird, then add about six pounds of ice.

Close up the cooler and it should keep the bird below 40 for 24 hours.  You can check it after 12 and add ice as needed.   If your cooler is too big, you might want to fill a pail or large bowl with the bird and solution and place in cooler, surrounding with ice, for the same effect — great refrigerator space savings at Thanksgiving.

Roast Turkey with Mushroom Stuffing

(Family Features)

  • 3 ½ cups Swanson Chicken Stock (Regular or Unsalted)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dried basil leaves, crushed
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Stalk celery, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • Small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
  • Turkey (12 to 14 pounds)
  • Vegetable cooking spray

Stir 1 3/4 cups stock, lemon juice, basil, thyme and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.

Heat remaining stock, remaining black pepper, celery, onion and mushrooms in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove saucepan from heat. Add stuffing to saucepan and mix lightly.

Remove package of giblets and neck from turkey cavity. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Spoon stuffing lightly into neck and body cavities. Fold any loose skin over stuffing. Tie ends of drumsticks together.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Spray turkey with cooking spray. Brush with stock mixture. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of meat, not touching bone.

Roast at 325°F for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until thermometer reads 180°F. Baste occasionally with stock mixture. Begin checking for doneness after 3 hours of roasting time. Let turkey stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Final Tips: 

  1. Bake any remaining stuffing in a covered casserole with the turkey for 30 minutes or until the stuffing is hot.
  2. Stuffing in the turkey should reach 165°F.



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