Soaking the bird in a salty solution (brining) prior to roasting helps plump the meat and keep it moist during cooking. It also adds flavor to the turkey. We brined ours in apple cider, brown sugar, sage and black pepper, which gave it a flavor at once subtly sweet, but also boldly savory - a combination that makes the meat a perfect partner for all the classic Thanksgiving sides.
- For the turkey:
- 12- to 14-pound turkey
- 1/2 gallon apple cider
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
- For the gravy:
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken
- or turkey broth
- 3 tablespoons instant flour, such as Wondra
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Place a 2 1/2-gallon zip-close plastic bag upright in a large bowl. Place the turkey in the bowl, then pour in the cider, salt, brown sugar, sage and peppercorns. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much as possible as you do so. Massage the bag to mix the ingredients in the liquid. Refrigerate and let brine for a minimum of 8 hours, turning the turkey now and again.
- When ready to roast, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fit a roasting pan with a rack.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then set it onto the roasting rack. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees and the thighs reach 170 degrees. If the turkey begins to darken too much, over it loosely with foil.
- Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, wrap with foil, then set a couple layer of bath towels over it to keep it warm.
- Remove the rack from the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan over medium heat on the stovetop (you may need two burners) and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the broth into the pan, whisking continuously. Then add the flour and whisk to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, while continuing to stir. Season with sage, salt and black pepper.
- Alison Ladman, Associated Press