Maple Syrup Brined Turkey

This is the epitome of delicious turkey. This was my first time making a whole turkey and I’m so impressed with myself. Like the Pumpkin Cheesecake, this recipe also came from Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog “GOOP” which she reposted. See link below. SO. DAMN. GOOD. It is the moistest, most flavorful turkey I’ve ever had. Even the leftovers were moist and loaded with flavor days later! And because of the brine the turkey absorbs, it cooks a LOT faster. I fully cooked a 14 pound turkey in 2.5 hours. No joke. I’m not much of a liar. The only trick is to be prepared the day before so you can brine your turkey!

Original recipe can be found here

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Cup Salt (preferably kosher)
1 12-14 pound Turkey (defrosted if frozen)
1 Orange – Quartered
1 Onion – Peeled & quartered
10 Cloves – Whole
20 Peppercorns
3 Star Anise **SEE NOTES
1-2 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil

METHOD
– Place the maple syrup and salt in 4 cups of hot water. Stir until the salt dissolves
– Place the maple syrup mixture in a large stock pot with a gallon of cold water, the juice of the orange, the orange halves (once juiced, of course), the onion, cloves, peppercorns, and star anise and stir to combine. **SEE NOTES
– Wash the turkey inside and out (putting aside the neck and liver to make gravy – or you can discard them) and place breast side down in the stockpot with the brine (you want the brine to just cover the turkey
– Refrigerate 18 hours to 2 days. (Or, you can set it in a cool safe place outdoors as long as it’s below 55 degrees F outside).
– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
– Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding brine.
– Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide, low pan and blot the turkey with a paper towel.
– Tuck back the wings (or cover with small pieces of foil) and rub the skin of the turkey with the oil.
– Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes and then place a piece of foil just over the breast of the turkey to cover (the breast cooks faster than the legs and wings so this process helps it to cook more evenly without drying out
– Pour 1 cup of water in the pan, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to roast 1 hour.
– Remove the foil from the breast, turn the pan so the other side of the breast is towards the back of the oven (most ovens’ heat comes from the back, so turning the pan prevents overcooking) and cook for another hour to 90 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) until you reach a temperature of 160-165 degrees F. The turkey will actually continue to cook a bit more even after you take it out of the oven (the total cooking time in the oven will be 2 1/2 to 3 hours total).
– Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (this is an essential step to allow the juices to redistribute and settle).
– Slice and serve

NOTES
– In lieu of running all over town looking for Star Anise, Mike googled replacements and I used Caraway Seeds and Fresh Tarragon instead. The combined flavors mimic Star Anise (apparently) Either way, it was delicious.
– I didn’t have a stock pot big enough for a 14 pound turkey so I used a large bucket with lid. You can also use a rubbermaid bin or a cooler. Just wash it first. Because it was winter I was able to safely brine my turkey on the patio. If it is TOO cold outside and you are afraid your brine will freeze, you can store it in an unheated garage or shed. Just make sure it’s sealed.
– This process can be done for a small turkey breast roast, turkey pieces or a whole chickens. If you need to put it in your fridge and aren’t serving a large number of people. Just cut down the recipe by at least half, depending on the weight of the meat you’re using and watch your cooking time.

NUTRITIONAL INFO
Serves 10
**Unfortunately I’m having a hard time determining the nutritional info for this recipe. The calculator I use doesn’t have a whole turkey as an option (1 unit dark meat or 1 unit white meat but doesn’t say how much a unit is 😦  ) Plus the info is hard to determine because you don’t actually eat the brine so I’m not sure how much of each ingredient you’re actually ingesting. If I put the whole recipe in, the points will be outrageous, as well as the sodium content!

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