It's a Thanksgiving miracle. I may have helped my mom roast turkey over the years, but I have never successfully prepped, cooked, and carved a turkey on my own. Until now. Brining the turkey for a few hours before cooking prevents the meat from drying out while roasting. The skin crisps up amazingly, the drippings made for an excellent gravy, and my boyfriend couldn't wait to use the leftovers to make the ultimate Thanksgiving sandwich the next day. I don't mean to brag, but I was really proud that I was able to pull this off without "adult supervision", and this may very well be one of the best turkeys I have ever eaten. Scouts honor. And that's saying a lot since my Dad and his deep fried turkeys have been number one for me for many years. Without further adieu I present to you, the main event.
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
- 4 cups cold bourbon
- 1 1/2 gallons cold water
- 1 (7-pound) turkey breast
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
To make the brine; combine the salt, syrup, peppercorns, bourbon and water in a large bucket. Remove any pieces from the turkey, like giblets or the neck. Once the turkey is cleaned up, place it in the brine and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry completely with paper towels. Place it on a baking sheet and refrigerate it for an hour or two so it dries thoroughly.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine the sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and cumin, mixing it well. Gently lift the skin of the turkey and rub the melted butter all over the meat. Then take the spice rub and rub it all over the meat as well, getting under the skin and on the outside of the turkey's skin, covering the turkey completely.
Place the turkey on a wire rack, on top of a large baking sheet, and then place into the oven. Cook the turkey for 20-30 minutes per pound. If desired, you can baste your turkey with melted butter while it cooks, but opening the oven may lower the internal temperature, thus taking longer to cook.
If you would like to go one step further and make gravy, here are some simple steps. Reserve the juice drippings from cooking your turkey and heat over medium-high heat in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in 2 tbsp. flour as well as 1 cup chicken broth. Whisk, whisk, whisk. The mixture will thicken up after a few minutes, but keep whisking. Once you have reached your desired consistency, serve hot over turkey.
Special thanks to Andrew for being my taste tester, and the best sous chef a girl could ask for!