How to make the most amazing Turkey this Thanksgiving

Written by Liz Chism (owner/head brewer)

 Thanksgiving dinner paired with Lickable Staves

Thanksgiving dinner paired with Lickable Staves

When I used to live in Mexico, I had the opportunity to cook over 40 turkeys (not all at once, because that would be crazy). Since I hadn’t ever cooked a turkey before and the ones that I had eaten at Thanksgiving were dry and flavorless, I was determined to figure out how to make moist and flavorful turkey. Below is how I make our turkey every year and sometimes multiple times per year because this turkey is that good.

Step 1: Pick out the perfect turkey and thaw

Step 2: Brine your turkey
My favorite way is to get a big pot (if you can fit your turkey in it AND fit the whole pot in the fridge, or use a cooler (make sure it is very clean). This is my brine recipe, but you can use any brine recipe. The important part is that your turkey actually sits in the brine for 12-24 hours.
Brine ingredients:
3-4 garlic cloves
32oz-64oz Poultry broth (chicken or turkey)
a couple beers (preferably a lighter beer or an IPA)
Salt (up to 1 1/2 cups)
Water

 Adding beer to my turkey brine

Adding beer to my turkey brine

Brine instructions:
Unwrap your thawed turkey and rinse it. Put it in your pot or cooler. Then add a couple of beers. I used some low fills that were sitting in the cold room at the brewery. You can use something that someone left behind and you’re not a big fan of. If you don’t have beer you want to spare for this brine, add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. It will help lower the pH of your brine and help your turkey to be more flavorful.
In a blender, combine some of the bone broth and garlic to blend a make a garlic smoothie. Add this to your pot. Add the rest of your broth. Then add the salt water. I like to do 1/2cup of salt (dissolved in water first) per 1 gallon of water. However, I don’t like to use more that 1 1/2 cups of salt total or else it makes it too salty. As long as the turkey is flavorful, you can always add a touch of salt later. Make 1 gallon of salt water at a time until the turkey is fully submersed, then put the pot in the fridge and let the brine due its magic. If you use a cooler, you’ll need some ice in your brine to keep your turkey cool.

 Turkey soaking in brine

Turkey soaking in brine

Step 3: Season your turkey
Need:
1-2 lemons
1 onion
3-4 garlic cloves
a couple sprigs of rosemary
1 cube butter (melted) or olive oil
spices

 Garlic, onion, lemon, and rosemary for stuffing the turkey

Garlic, onion, lemon, and rosemary for stuffing the turkey

Pull your turkey out of the brine and give it a good rinse. Set your turkey on a rack in the roasting pan. If your roasting pan doesn’t have a rack, just use a little foil to make some foil balls to prop the turkey up so it is not touching the bottom of the pan. The key is to set your turkey BREAST DOWN. This is opposite most pictures because when the bird is breast up, you can stuff it and make it look pretty. Breast down will still look pretty and then just do the stuffing on the side. If you don’t know how to tell if its breast down, then make your bird pretend to fly and if the wings are right, then your breast is down.
Stuff your turkey with lemon, garlic, onion, rosemary, or any other herbs your want to use. I love this combo but have also added an apple or orange, some basil or tarragon fresh from my garden. Some of it will fall out, that’s ok; it will just make the drippings on the bottom taste good for gravy. Drizzle melted butter over the top (or if there are dairy allergies in your family then you can use olive oil or avocado oil). Sprinkle top of the turkey with salt, pepper, oregano, and paprika (to make it look pretty). Pour 4 cups of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.

 Turkey seasoned and ready for the oven

Turkey seasoned and ready for the oven

Step 4: Cook your Turkey
Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Place your turkey in the oven and cook at this high heat for 30 minutes. Then lower the temp to 325F but don’t open the oven. After 20 minutes with the temp at 325F, open the oven and baste the turkey with the juices from the bottom of the pan. Then set your timer for another 20 minutes and baste again. Repeat this basting procedure every 20 minutes the entire rest of the time it takes to cook your turkey. Carefully monitor the temp of your turkey with an oven safe thermometer and cook until the thickest part of the breast reads 152F. Yes, I know that everything you read says to cook it to 165F, but technically it only needs to be at 165F for a split second to be safe. It can be at a lower temp as long as you hold it there for a while. So once your turkey is 152F, pull it out of the oven and cover with foil and a couple towels (to hold in the heat) and let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes (it can rest longer if you’re still a little ways off from eating dinner). Plan on about 12-15 minutes per pound. If its cooking a little slow, you can up the temp to 425F again, but baste it more often. About a half hour before dinner is served, carve your turkey.

 Turkey just pulled out of the oven

Turkey just pulled out of the oven

Step 5: Enjoy your Turkey
Enjoy this amazingly moist and flavorful turkey with Lickable Staves and friends.

Cheers!