For years, I was tormented by turkeys. Sometimes they’d overcook and go dry. So the next year I’d try and pull them a little quicker. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like carving a turkey in front of God and everybody and cutting into a hip joint that is not fully cooked. And then there were the magical deflating turkeys. Beautiful when they came out of the oven, with puffed-up white meat straining against the bronzed skin, somehow they managed to shrink and wither before they got to the table.
Then I discovered brining. I brined my first turkey at Thanksgiving 1994. I had undercooked the bird the year before, so this was my dinner to overcook it. Even so, the breast meat stayed moist. When I sliced it, it fell away in neat sheets, it didn’t crumble into turkey-flavored sawdust. And deflation was not an issue. The bird came out of the oven looking like a ‘50s starlet and stayed that way right through dinner.
From the recipe: Turkey Trouble
Combine the salt and water in a large pitcher and stir until the salt dissolves. Place the turkey in a pot just large enough to hold it and pour the salt-water combination over it. If the turkey is completely covered, don’t worry about using all of the brine. Cover the top with foil and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight, turning 2 or 3 times to make sure the turkey is totally submerged.
Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Return it to the pot and refrigerate it, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight to dry thoroughly.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the turkey on its side on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and roast 15 minutes. Turn the turkey to its other side and roast another 15 minutes. Finally turn it breast-side up and roast another 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and roast until the meat thermometer inserted in the center of the thickest part of the thigh registers 160 to 165 degrees, about 2 hours. Remove the turkey from the oven and set aside 20 minutes before carving.
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