Thanksgiving Recap + Brined Turkey Recipe

I hope everyone had a lovely long Thanksgiving holiday! I just got back from a trip to Tennessee to see my mom’s side of the family. Thanksgiving in Tennessee has been my family tradition since before I was born, so it was nice to see everyone and catch up.

Sunset Isn’t that sunset beautiful? Marshall and I had that view of the sky on our drive home. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the greatest luck with the weather on the way there.

IMG_2220 Doesn’t that just look lovely???

Luckily, it was only actively snowing for a small portion on the trip, but it was enough to add on an extra hour of drive time. Needless to say, Marshall and I were immensely happy to reach my aunt’s house on Wednesday night. The next day, Thanksgiving, my mom had arrived and we got to work on the food!

It has been the tradition that I cook the turkey for our Thanksgiving “Linner,” as well as make the stuffing, one dessert, and a healthy green bean dish {nothing bathed in butter and cream :)}.

For the stuffing, I used a twist on my recipe for southern cornbread stuffing.

cornbread stuffing {Instead of bacon, I used 2/3 lbs. pork sausage and omitted the mushrooms}

For the green beans, I used my recipe for healthy haricot verts

healthy green beans {Except no almonds this year}

Dessert was homemade apple pie

IMG_2236 And for the turkey, I always use a brine.

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey For those who are unfamiliar, a brine is basically a flavorful salt solution that you emerse your turkey in for 8+ hours. I always use a brine, but I usually change up the components of the brine each year. The nice thing about it, you don’t have to be exact at all! I basically threw a bunch of ingredients into a 5 gallon (food-safe) bucket, put the turkey in, and let it sit for 24+ hours.

Here is what I did this year:

In a large pot over medium-high heat, place:

~One heaping 1/2 cup kosher salt

~ 1 cup brown sugar

~1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

~6 bay leaves

~4 cloves garlic, smashed

~ 6 – 8 cups of water

Stir mixture and heat until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Allow to cool for one hour. Once cool, transfer salt solution to a vessel you plan to brine your turkey in (you need a container large enough to completely submerge the turkey in liquid).

Tip: a $5 food-safe 5-gallon bucket with lid purchased at Lowe’s is perfect for this!

Once you have the solution in the bucket, add:

~2 oranges, quartered

~3 cups apple cider

{If you have a juicer, do what I did and juice about 8-10 apples for this}

~64 oz. low sodium chicken stock

~your defrosted turkey

~Enough cold water to cover turkey completely

Cover with a lid and refrigerate until ready to roast!

If you are wondering how I cooked my turkey* post-brine, it is really simple!

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Pat-dry turkey in a roasting pan and place a garlic + herb compound butter between the breast-meat and the skin
  • Insert probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast-meat, being sure not to hit a bone
  • Rub turkey skin with ~2 tablespoons olive oil and roast until probe thermometer registers 155 degrees F.
    • Check on turkey about 30 – 45 minutes into cooking. If skin is browning very quickly, loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil over skin
    • My 9.5 lbs. turkey took a little until 2 hours to reach temperature
  • When an internal temperature of 155 degrees has been achieved, cover the turkey loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Carve off the bone and serve!

*Note: My family only likes the white meat, so I only order a fresh-bone-in turkey breast from Whole Foods. If you are roasting a whole turkey, timing will be different.

Brined Turkey Thanksgiving

I have found brining the turkey yields a moist and flavorful result every time! And using the probe thermometer assures your turkey is cooked to the proper done-ness without over-drying the meat.

Question of the Day

  • What are some of your families Thanksgiving traditions? 


2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Recap + Brined Turkey Recipe

  1. I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year. I feel I spent the last 10 years of cooking preparing for this. It turned out almost perfect!

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