Guaranteed Juicy Brined Heirloom Turkey

Heirloom turkey delivers flavor that is richer and fuller. The animals are typically raised under more natural conditions in pastures by farmers who love them and don’t inject growth hormones or steroids. You can taste the difference.

Because  heirloom turkeys do not have the corn-fed, genetically modified fat pad of conventionally farmed turkey, so the breast meat can dry out more easily during cooking. Follow my cooking tips, and your heirloom turkey will turn out juicy and delicious every time.

Preparation

  1. Defrost your turkey (if frozen) at least 48 hours in advance of your cooking start time. Do this by placing it in the refrigerator, never on the counter.
  2. Brine your bird in a large brining bag for 24 hours in advance on your cooking start time, being sure to rotate the bird. This tenderizes the meat and draws fluid in, making it less likely to dry out during roasting. You can add herbs and spices to your brine to give your turkey a distinctive flavor. My brine recipe is:
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup honey, agave or coconut sugar
  • 1 cup tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce (be careful to choose a mild tasting soy sauce) OR 1/2 cup of salt dissolved in an equal part warm water
  • Optional: herbs and spices, such as sage, thyme, paprika, majoram, bay leaf, organe zest and/or garlic
  • Combine the brine ingredients in a large pot and heat until combined. Cool and then add to brining bag containing the fresh turkey.

brine-for-roasted-turkey-and-chicken

brine-for-roasted-turkey-and-chicken

Cooking

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 475F
  2. Drain the brine and deep tissue massage the turkey with clarified butter (ghee) or olive oil. Be generous.
  3. DO NOT STUFF. Stuffing heirloom turkey requires longer cooking times and the meat will dry out. Cook your stuffing on the side. However, you can add apples, celery, carrots and any other fruit or veggie to the center of the bird, which will steam and add flavor and moisture.
  4. Set the bird in the roasting pan breast side up and place it the center of the oven. Set on the rack a separate thermometer to double check the oven temperature (most built-in oven thermometers are off anywhere from 10 to 50 degrees F).
  5. Cook the bird on 475F for 15 minutes. Use a timer.
  6. Then reduce the heat to 325F and cook an additional 20 minutes for each pound. Again, use a timer. Halfway through this second, longer cooking cycle brush the breast liberally with olive oil and more herbs.
  7. When the skin looks browned and crispy, cover the bird with aluminum foil for the remainder of the cooking cycle.
  8. When the cooking is finished, test the underside of the thigh by inserting deeply a meat thermometer. It should read a 155F.
  9. Remove the turkey in the roasting pan to a counter space for cooling. Cool for 30 minutes covered with tin foil (the meat will continue to cook t o 165F). Set a timer. Do not cut or slice. This time is when all the cooking juices go back into the meat. If you cut the bird right away, the meat will dry out as the juices spill into the pan.
  10. Carve, serve and enjoy!

Note: You may also cook your turkey in a cooking bag. This helps hold in the juices and cooks through steam. You can use a coking bag as extra insurance if you feel unskilled or unsure of any my steps.

About Genevive Bjorn

Award-winning freelance journalist based in San Diego, covering health, medicine, culture and travel.

Comments

  1. This looks like a wonderful recipe..will try it !!!! and very cool .org website – Happy Thanksgiving to you and Adam…come to Maui for leftovers!!! bev

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