I started hosting Thanksgiving about five years ago. My first two years were big to-dos. I had sugar cookie name tags, or place settings with homemade caramel corn, compound butters, and homemade rolls. Three years ago I hosted Thanksgiving at 9 months pregnant. In fact, my son was born just four days after! That year I took a lesson in "doing less and doing it better" and I am now a true convert. If you have good food, people will be happy!
Last year was the first time I brined my own turkey. In the past my dad did it for me, but I decided it was about time I learn to act like a "big girl" and handle the bird on my own! My dad always used apple juice in his brine so when I saw that this recipe did as well I went with it. The turkey was delicious. I wish I had better pictures of it, but honestly when you have a dozen or more hungry mouths to feed you can't really make everyone wait for you to set up your indoor lighting. This will be the brine I use again this year, as I will be once again hosting! I've held on to this recipe for a year now to share with you and I am so excited that the holidays are upon us once again and I can share this with you!
Source: Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman
3 cups apple juice
2 gallons cold water
2 tbsp dried rosemary
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cup Kosher Salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp cracked peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
Peel of 3 oranges
Directions:1-Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
2- Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours. Leave breast side down first, and 2/3 of the way through flip the turkey over.
3- When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.
4- Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.