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Here’s how to brine and roast a Thanksgiving turkey

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Ercan Ekinci, For FLORIDA TODAY
Published 9:16 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2017

Ercan Ekinci knows a think or two about Thanksgiving.

As executive chef and co-owner of Green Turtle Market in Indian Harbour Beach, he’s spend the past several holiday seasons roasting delicious turkeys and providing tasty side dishes to dress up holiday tables.

He shared these tips and his recipe for brining and roasting a juicy bird, sure to impress even the pickiest of Thanksgiving guests.

We’ll let Ekinci take it from here:

The best advantage in wet brining a turkey is that it results in the juiciest, most flavorful turkey meat.

There is a big difference between brined turkeys and turkeys cooked in a traditional fashion. Not only is the moisture incomparable to other recipes but the flavor delivered by the brining solution resets the bar.

Brining turkeys has been a part of my family tradition since I can remember, and I would definitely recommend using heavy duty cooking bags versus a large pot. This ensures that you receive the best looking and tasting results while also helping save space in your refrigerator during the process.

Pre-boiling your brining solution will ensure that you get a more powerful flavor profile out of your meal all the way around.

Brined and Roasted Turkey

3 cups apple cider

2 gallons cold water

3 whole orange peels

3 tablespoons juniper berries

3 tablespoons star anise

2 tablespoons whole allspice

3 sprigs of sage

3 sprigs of thyme

4 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves

6 cloves of garlic

1½ cups kosher salt

2 cups brown sugar

4 tablespoons black peppercorns

6 whole bay leaves

Combine apple cider and dry ingredients in a large pot with ½ a gallon of water and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Then, add remaining 1½ gallons of cold water to completely cool the solution.

Place your 15-20-pound uncooked turkey in a large plastic bag (you can use a large pot if a bag isn’t available) and slowly submerge your turkey in the cold brining solution. Place your turkey in the refrigerator and leave it for roughly 18 hours.

Before you start cooking, dispose of the remaining brining solution and thoroughly rinse the turkey.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the turkey dry and touch up with additional seasonings/fresh herbs from the inside out. This will promote more flavorful tasting turkey meat.

My personal cooking technique involves keeping the turkey as moist as possible without compromising the crunchy layer on the outside.

Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. I start with a layer of parchment paper over the turkey and follow it with a layer of aluminum foil to cover the turkey nice and tight to seal in the moisture.

For roasting the turkey, the rule of thumb is usually 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. If you choose to use stuffing in your bird, you may need to adjust the cooking time a bit more to accommodate that.

I typically use a convection oven because it has better air circulation, which allows the meat to be cooked more evenly throughout.

A 20-pound bird would cook for about 3½ hours at 350 degrees.

For the first 2½ hours, you don’t want to let any of the steam escape, so keep the turkey covered tightly. You may take the cover off your turkey for the last hour, but don’t forget to regularly baste your turkey to ensure a nice, crisp outside while leaving the inside moist.

The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted close to, but not touching, the bone reads 180 degrees in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast.

Your timing may need to be adjusted according to your oven’s capacity, but this recipe guarantees a flavorful, fall-off-the-bone meal.

Green Turtle Market is at 855 E. Gallie Blvd., Indian Harbour Beach. Call 321-773-2001  or visit greenturtlemarket.com.

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