How to Brine a Turkey and Make Turkey Dinner with Stuffing
Learning how to brine a turkey and cook a full turkey dinner can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. We have a step by step plan to show you how to make a juicy brined turkey with turkey stuffing without getting frazzled.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 15 people
FOR THE BRINE
- 40 cups water
- 2 cups salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 heads garlic
- 1/4 cup peppercorns
- 20 bay leaves
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 bunch rosemary
FOR THE SAUSAGE
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 lbs ground sausage
- 2 bunches celery diced
- 4 large onions diced
- 4 cups bread cubes (about 3/4 loaf) day old works best
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup thyme chopped
- 1/4 cup rosemary chopped
- 2 tsp pepper
- NO SALT IF YOU ARE BRINING YOUR TURKEY
- 1.5 cups chicken broth
FOR THE TURKEY
- 15 lb turkey
- 4 large carrots washed and chopped in big pieces
- 4 stalks celery , washed and chopped in big pieces
- 1 large onion
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 sprigs rosemary chopped
- sprinkle of paprika
- butchers twine
FOR THE GRAVY
- drippings from the turkey , strained of fat
- 2 900 mls boxes of chicken broth
- 1/2 cup flour or 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
BRINE THE TURKEY
In a big bot, add the water, herbs, spices, salt and sugar. There is no need to take the skin off the garlic, just separate the bulbs. Throw in your herbs stems and all, just give them a good wash before hand.
Bring the works to a boil for 15 mins and turn it off. Set it aside to cool before you put the turkey in it. Add the turkey to the cooled liquid and leave it there for at least 12 hours.
IMPORTANT: You will need a container big enough to hold your turkey and still be able to keep it in the fridge. You can either use a brining bag, a huge ziplock bags, a smaller cooler or a really large pot. You can even use a 5 gallon pail if that works. If its cold enough outside, you can keep your turkey out there overnight. Otherwise it has to be in the fridge while it brines.
MAKE THE STUFFING
Cut up your bread, lay it on a baking tray and bake it at 200 degrees for about 45 mins or until it just starts to dry out.
Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add the oil, chopped celery, and onions and saute until tender. Once they are tender put them into a large bowl. Next cook the sausage in the same pan. If it has lots of fat, make sure to drain it or remove most of it with a turkey baster. When fully cooked, add the sausage to the large bowl as well.
Chop the fresh herbs then add to the bowl. Add the slightly dried bread cubes and mix it all together. Cover it and put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook your turkey.
STUFF THE TURKEY
Pull your turkey out of the turkey brine and get it ready to cook. You need to rinse your turkey really really well. If you don't rinse it well, the meat will be too salty. Pat your turkey dry with a clean tea towel and let it sit out for at least 30 mins to air dry a little. A dry turkey will brown much nicer.
Time to stuff the bird... If you can find a cheesecloth bag for your stuffing it works best. (these bags work perfect) Fill the bag about half way full and push it into the turkey. Then continue filling the rest of the bag till its full and tie the bag nice and tight.
If you don't have a bag, get a large piece of cheesecloth and push it inside the bird a bit and make a makeshift bag. Then start filling it and pushing it in as you go. Tie a string tight around the opening or close it up good somehow.
ROAST THE TURKEY
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Next get your roaster ready. Add carrots, celery, and onions to the bottom of your roasting pan so that your gravy gets all that flavor. You can just set the turkey right on top of the veggies if you like, or use a rack or turkey lifter.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan breast up. Rub butter with chopped rosemary mixed in, all over the turkey and season with pepper and poultry spice. NO SALT. If you have a meat thermometer, insert it just above the thigh bone pointing into the breast and set it to 165 degrees F.
Cover your turkey (with a roasting lid or tin foil) and throw your bird in the oven! Bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins per pound or until your meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees in the breast. You will want to check the turkey after an hour and a half to two hours. Make sure the skin is not burning anywhere and baste the breast with the juices. Check it every hour or so after that and baste it when you check it.
Remove from the oven, remove the stuffing and set aside to keep warm. Tent the turkey with foil to let it rest and keep warm for about an hour. While its resting, make your gravy.
FOR THE GRAVY
Remove the vegetables from the turkey roaster and discard. Pour the drippings from the roaster into a fat separator if you have one. These are such nice little tools for making gravy without all the fat! If you don't, place the gravy in a see through container and wait till the fat separates. Then scoop off as much fat as you can. You can also put it in the fridge or somewhere cold till the fat starts to harden. This will make it way easier to scoop off.
Return the drippings to the gravy roaster and heat the roaster on the stove at medium high. Add 2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth and stir.
Using about 1/2 cup of flour for the gravy or 1/4 cup of cornstarch, make a slurry with water and add it to thicken the gravy. (A slurry is flour or cornstarch mixed with a little water until its smooth. This will make sure you don't get lumps in your gravy). When you pour the slurry into the roaster, make sure you are pouring slowly and whisking at the same time.
Season with pepper and salt if you need it, but taste it before adding salt. Pour it into a gravy boat.
Serving: 1serving with gravy | Calories: 438kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 65g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 247mg | Sodium: 237mg | Potassium: 554mg | Vitamin A: 90IU | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 2.6mg