Citrus Lacquered Turkey
For the juiciest, most consistent turkey year after year, brining is the way to go. This recipe includes a special technique designed to make the skin turn out crispy, not rubbery like some brining recipes. The difficult part about brining a turkey at home is keeping it cold overnight. Who has room in their refrigerator for a large enough bucket to hold a 20 pound turkey and all the brine? The recipe below calls for using a cooler. This technique works great for keeping your turkey cold the first night.
- 2 gallons apple cider, cold
- 3 cups kosher salt
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch parsley
- 8 pounds ice
- 1 20-pound turkey, completely thawed
- 2 pounds butter
- 1 cup honey
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Note: Planning ahead is paramount to the success of this recipe. The turkey must be brined for 12-14 hours. In addition, the air-drying step takes at least 24 hours to result in a dry skin.
Brine the Turkey
- Select a cooler large enough to fit the turkey and 3 gallons of brining liquid. In a large stockpot, mix together 1 gallon of the apple cider, salt, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Bring mixture to a boil and remove from heat. Add the remaining one gallon of cold apple cider to the cooler along with ice. Add the cider brine to this mixture and stir. Place turkey into this liquid, making sure it is fully submerged. Close the lid snug and keep the cooler in the coolest location of the house (depending on where you live, that may be outside). Soak turkey in the brine for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 14.
Air-Dry the Turkey
- Air-drying helps to dry out the skin so it will become crispy. Remove turkey from the brine and hold over a sink to drain all brine out of the cavities. Thoroughly pat dry the outside of the turkey with paper towels. Remove the thyme, parsley and bay leaves from the brine and place in the main cavity of the turkey. Transfer turkey onto a steel rack set in a roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck the wing tips behind the turkey's back and tie the drumsticks loosely together with kitchen string to close the cavity. Place in the refrigerator and let sit uncovered for at least 24 hours so the skin dries out. This is the key to crispy skin!
Roast Turkey with Citrus Lacquer
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Make Citrus Lacquer by combining butter, honey and lemon juice in a sauce pan and heating until incorporated.
- Brush the turkey with lacquer and place in the oven. Baste with the lacquer every 30 minutes.
- Roast the bird for approximately 15 minutes per pound, or until the inner thigh of the turkey has an internal temperature of 155°F.
- Remove turkey from the oven and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.