Hi there! Things sometimes get nuts around HQ, and the other day we had a sideways conversation about what makes the best Thanksgiving turkey. In the last five years I've become the go-to turkey cooker for my family, because I never make a dry, chewy, sawdusty bird, so I started just blurting out turkey tips for poor Brooke, who is brining her first turkey. (You'll do great, Brookie!) And yes, I ALWAYS brine--it gives you the juiciest turkey!
I'll admit my method is simply a riff on
Alton Brown's famous brining method,
so you can just follow most of the instructions there, but his leaves out a VERY important step that will make your bird better--The Turkey Bra.
Before you brown your bird initially, you need to measure a piece of aluminum foil on your raw bird to cover the breast only. Set this aside. After you complete the initial browning stage in a 500 degree oven, put the bra on the breast for the remainder of the cook time--this allows you to have the initial browning of the bird, but then shields the breast so its cooking rate doesn't outpace the dark meat through the roasting phase. Otherwise you'll have a dry breast and/or undercooked legs and thighs, which is about as appetizing as Addison Russell's spray-on hair.
The other thing is that the probe thermometer is absolutely, positively a must have. That's the kind of meat thermometer with the string attached to an external digital reader--you leave it in the breast during cooking. Set it for 161 degrees and it'll tell you when it's done.
Combine these tips with Alton's recipe and it's practically fool proof--I've made an unimpeachable bird for several years running now.
Trust--my bird is always tasty.
(I'm gonna spatchcock my turkey!-- Tina)