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What You'll Need
Soaking a turkey overnight in a solution of salt and water ensures moist results. When you add aromatics to the brine, the resulting roast is also infused with a subtle character all its own. Follow our instructions to prepare a perfect brined turkey for your next feast.
Makes enough brine for one 18- to 20-pound turkey
7 quarts (28 cups) water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
1 bottle dry Riesling
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme
Tools and Materials 5-gallon brining container (tub, stockpot, or bucket)
Large brining or oven-roasting bag
Refrigerator (or a cooler with ice)
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Step 1: Make the Brine
One day before roasting turkey, bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
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Step 2: Submerge the Turkey
To minimize cleanup, line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping turkey once.
If there isn't room in your refrigerator, place the bagged bird inside a cooler, and surround it with ice, replenishing as necessary to keep it at 40 degrees.
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Step 3: Remove and Roast
Remove turkey from brine one hour before you're ready to roast it, and pat it dry inside and out. Let stand for up to 1 hour before roasting it to your preferred recipe's specifications.
Martha shows "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson how to wet brine a Thanksgiving turkey.
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