The turkey needs to soak for about 24 hours, so plan accordingly. Soaking the turkey overnight in a solution of salt and water ensures moist results. When you add aromatics to the brine, the resulting roast is also infused with a subtle character all its own. Lining the brining container, whether tub, stock-pot, or bucket, can minimize cleanup, but finding a place for the turkey can require some creative refrigerator rearranging. If there simply isn't room, place the bagged bird in a cooler, and surround it with ice, replenishing as necessary to keep it at 40 degrees.
Makes enough brine for one 18- to 20-pound turkey
- 7 quarts (28 cups) water
- 1 1/2 cups coarse salt
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
- 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
- 1 bottle dry Riesling
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
1.) Bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
2.) Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping turkey once.