For years I've brined my Thanksgiving turkey with this recipe. But, this year we're primal, so I had to make some modifications to the recipe – and the good news is that it's as awesome as ever. 🙂
Below are two “primalized” ingredient lists – one for the turkey brine and one for cooking the turkey after you've removed it from the brine. Happy Primal Thanksgiving folks!
Primal Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Brined)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BRINE
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pure organic honey (allowed in the primal diet in moderation, which this qualifies as to me)
- 1 gallon vegetable broth (you can find a good recipe for homemade primal vegetable both here)
- 1 tsbp black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
INGREDIENTS FOR THE AROMATICS
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- 8 oz. block of grass fed butter (I use Kerrygold)
2-3 days before roasting your turkey, it's time to start 1. thawing the turkey and 2. making the base for the brine.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, honey, peppercorns, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate it.
Late in the evening before you make the turkey, combine the brine base you made above with the ice water into a 5 gallon bucket (with a lid!). Note that this assumes you're making a 14-16 pound bird. I typically make a much larger bird, so I double the above brine recipe and thus, the size of the bucket – opting to use a 10 gallon bucket as a result (which I toss after Thanksgiving).
Place the turkey (with the “insides” like the neck, etc removed) in the bucket and place breast side down. Weigh it down if necessary to make sure it's immersed. Then refrigerate it or set it in a cold place (like your garage if you live in a cold climate) until morning – being sure to turn once halfway through. Be sure to secure the lid (especially if you're storing in a cool place vs. the fridge).
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly in the sink (both inside and out). Discard the leftover brine. Place the turkey on a roasting rack and pat it dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onions, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it on high for about 4-5 minutes. Once it's done microwaving, add the mixture to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with your grass fed butter (you can do this by merely using the stick or by melting the butter in a bowl and using a basting brush).
Roast the turkey on the lowest rack of your oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. The original recipe never mentioned anything about covering the turkey with foil halfway through the first 30 minutes, but I do because otherwise it gets too browned for my taste. I simply cover it loosely (essentially merely laying some foil on top of the bird).
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and then remove the foil if you chose to use it. Give the bird another butter rub down / basting.
You'll need to cook the turkey until it has an internal temperature of about 161 degrees (which is about 2 – 2 1/2 hours for a 14-16 pound bird) – rubbing it down or basting it with butter as necessary to ensure the outside doesn't dry out.
When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes before carving.
The original recipe this was based off of was the best turkey I'd ever had. And even with the above primal modifications, it retains that title. 😉