Brined and Oven-Roasted Turkey


Brining adds moisture to the turkey, making it difficult to dry out and overcook.From the book "Mad Hungry" by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).



  • One 16-pound turkey (approximate)

  • 1 Sausage Bread Stuffing

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Brine Add-Ins (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander

  • 1 tablespoon dried fennel

  • 1 tablespoon dried cumin

  • 1 whole cinnamon stick

  • 5 whole cloves

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 4 large sprigs fresh sage

Brining Liquid

  • 2 quarts water (at the very least)

  • 1 ½ cups coarse salt

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 1 large red onion, sliced

  • 1 head garlic, smashed (8 to 10 cloves)

  • 2 bottles white wine


  1. In a 2-quart pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with the salt and sugar, stirring occasionally until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Cool completely and place in a clean 5-gallon bucket with the onion, garlic, wine, and any of the optional spices or herbs. Stir in the remaining water completely to combine. Add the turkey. Cover and store in a cold place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Turn bird occasionally.

  2. Drain the turkey, pat dry, and bring to room temperature an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  3. Stuff the cavity and neck of the bird with the stuffing. Truss or tie the cavity closed. Tuck the wings under the breast and place in the roasting pan. Rub the bird all over with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the bird for 2 to 3 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of a leg reaches 165 degrees. After 1 hour, baste every 30 minutes with pan juices. After 2 hours, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.


Cook's Notes

Special equipment: 5-gallon bucket (for brining), trussing supplies or needle and string, roasting pan.Note: Trussing a turkey closes the cavity by either sewing the skin over the stuffing or sealing it altogether with skewers.

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