We’re Cooking: Bourbon, Cranberry & Orange Brined Roasted Turkey

roasted brined turkey

breakingNothing says Thanksgiving like turkey and cranberry, add in a little bourbon & orange to that cranberry and you have a winning cocktail, as well as a base for a delightfully delicious brined turkey for your holiday. We brined this beauty from Wendy Meadows Farm for 24 hours before roasting it to perfection. If you don’t have all night to brine, at least give it 4-6 hours as the brine adds both flavor and incredible juiciness. And, the simple spiced compound butter will keep your bird moist and ensure it is perfectly golden brown.

Pair with your favorite Pinot Noir, like the brand new wine with the 2014 vintage from Adelsheim, Breaking Ground Chehalem Mountain Pinot Noir. Earthy, strawberry, pomegranate and cranberry filled and deliciously smooth.




Bourbon, Cranberry & Orange Brined Roasted Turkey

1 whole fresh or thawed turkey 12-15 pounds, giblets, neck, etc. removed. (Ours was a big boy (about 18 pounds) so adjust your cooking time to fit your bird. Details on cooking below)

For the brine:
1 1/2 cups bourbon
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 gallon orange juice
1 whole onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons whole pepper corns, smashed (we use a mortar & pestal, but you can also use a heavy bottomed pan to smash)
8 stems fresh sage
4 stems fresh rosemary
10 stems fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup salt
4 cups water

For the rub:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon graham masala
2 teapoons dried corriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to your taste)
3 garlic cloves, minced
zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
salt and pepper

compound paprika butter

For the bird filling:
1 large orange, cut into quarters
1 large onion, cut into quarters
3 rosemary sprigs
1 lemon, cut into quarters
10 springs parley or cilantro

In a large stock pot bring all of the brining ingredients except the water to a simmer, to disolve the sugar and salt. Add cold water to cool it down quickly and let sit for about 10 minutes until cool. Place the turkey in a brining bag (or several large trash bags, double lined) inside either an ice filled cooler or a large pot you can put inside your fridge. (We just used an ice chest and kept our bird iced all night.) Pour the brine over, ensuring your bird is covered completely. Let sit in the brine overnight. In the morning preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

brined turkery precookMix your softened, compound butter together, adding in about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and set aside. Remove the bird from the brine, discarding the brine after use. Pat the turkey dry then rub the bird well with the butter, getting under the skin on the breast, thighs, legs, etc. ensuring the entire bird is covered in butter. Season generously with salt and pepper over all sides. Stuff the cavity with the turkey filling.

Place in a roasting pan on a rack. Tie the legs together with a bit of kitchen twine. Cover the bird with foil and place in the oven. Add a bit of water into the bottom of the pan. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the leg, about 4-5 hours depending on the size of the turkey, about 15 minutes per pound. Throughout the cooking process, remove the bird from the oven periodically and baste with the cooking juices. The last hour of cooking remove the foil and allow the bird to brown on all sides.

When the turkey is fully cooked, remove from the pan and recover with foil to lock in the juices. Strain the cooking liquid and add to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer, adding about a tablespoon of flour if you would like a thick gravy. Otherwise, just spoon the drippings over the turkey right before serving. Carve and serve with your favorite holiday sides.