Rachael Ray's Whiskey-Brined Turkey

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rachael ray whiskey brined turkey
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings

Ingredients

Turkey

  • 1 12- to 14-lb. fresh or thawed frozen turkey
  • 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • Ice
  • Brining bag or brining bucket
  • 4 quarts chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 cup bourbon or your favorite whiskey
  • A handful each fresh flat-leaf parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (give the herbs a few whacks with the back edge of your chef's knife to bruise them a bit)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • Olive oil

Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh apple cider
  • About 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or your favorite whiskey

Preparation

For the turkey, place the bird on a cutting board, breast side down, with the legs toward you. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone; remove. Open the turkey like a book and flip over, spreading out on the board, skin side up. Using the palms of your hands, press firmly between the breasts to flatten. Tuck the wing tips under the breasts.

In a large saucepan, combine the cider, sugar and kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium high, stirring to dissolve. Pour brine into a large bowl; add 5 or 6 big scoops of ice to chill. Line a stockpot with a turkey-size brining bag. Add the brine, stock, bourbon, herbs, spices and the turkey. Add water, if needed, to cover bird. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 days.

Remove the turkey from the brine; pat dry (discard the brine). Open the bird and place, skin side up, on a rack inside a large roasting pan. Rub all over with the olive oil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

For the glaze, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium until it foams. Add the sugar and honey and stir until dissolved, a minute or two. Add the stock, cider, Worcestershire and bourbon; simmer at a low rolling boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roast the turkey until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees, basting with the glaze every 15 minutes during the last hour of cooking, about 2 hours to 2 hours and 20 minutes. (Count on about 10 minutes per pound.) Let rest at least 30 minutes before carving. Tilt the pan; spoon off the fat. Save the drippings for the gravy.