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Traditional Brined Turkey

Serves 10 to 12.


    Traditional Brined Turkey

    There are dozens of ways to roast turkey. Our preferred method is roasting a brined bird. Since brining a turkey requires it to be marinated for up to 14 hours, start this recipe the day before with a fresh or completely thawed turkey (see “Safe thawing tips” below).


    Safe thawing tips

    If not buying fresh, here are a few simple ways to thaw frozen turkey safely. Be sure to allow yourself a few days if using the conventional method.

    Conventional refrigerator thaw

    Plan ahead. Place frozen turkey, in its original, unopened wrapper, breast side up in deep tray to prevent juices from leaking into your refrigerator. Place in 40 F (4.5 C) refrigerator and allow about 24 hours per 4 to 5 lbs (2 to 2.5 kg) of bird. A 10 lb (5 kg) bird will take about 2 to 2 1/2 days. A 15 lb (7.5 kg) bird will take almost 4 days.

    Cold-water thawing

    Be sure frozen turkey is in leak-proof bag. Submerge bag in cold water (do not use warm or hot water). Leaving at room temperature, thaw bird, changing cold water every 30 minutes per 1 lb (450 g) of turkey. A 10 lb (5 kg) bird will take about 5 hours. A 15 lb (7.5 kg) bird will take about 7 hours.


    Traditional Brined Turkey


    • 3/4 cup (180 mL) light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup (180 mL) kosher salt
    • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) rainbow peppercorns
    • 6 fresh sage sprigs
    • 4 fresh bay leaves
    • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
    • 10 lb (5 kg) free range, organic turkey
    • 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
    • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
    • 3 cups (750 mL) low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
    • 1/4 cup (60 mL) arrowroot or tapioca starch


    Per serving:

    • calories390
    • protein71g
    • fat16g
      • saturated fat4g
      • trans fat0g
    • carbohydrates6g
      • sugars2g
      • fibre0g
    • sodium618mg



    To make brine, combine 5 L water with sugar and salt in very, very large stockpot. The pot must be large enough to contain a 10 lb (5 kg) bird plus 5 L water to fully submerge bird. It will also need to be refrigerated for 12 hours or overnight, so youu2019ll need to allow for ample shelf space in the refrigerator.


    Place stockpot over high heat; add peppercorns, sage, bay leaves, and rosemary; and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat; cool slightly before placing in refrigerator to chill.


    When brine has cooled, strain out herbs with sieve. Remove giblets and neck from cavity of bird, and reserve for gravy. Gently submerge turkey in brine, making sure cavity fills with liquid. Place a plate on top of turkey to keep it submerged. Place stockpot with turkey into refrigerator and marinate in brine for at least 12 to 14 hours, or overnight.


    Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Remove turkey from brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towel. Place turkey on rack in large roasting pan and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Rub with 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


    Place turkey in oven, reduce temperature to 325 F (170 C), and roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 185 F (85 C), about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Tent turkey with foil, and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before transferring to carving platter.


    While turkey is roasting, prepare gravy. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil in large, heavy saucepan. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauteu0301 until soft. Coarsely chop giblets and neck and add. Continue to sauteu0301 until vegetables begin to turn golden. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain liquid through sieve into separate saucepan. Discard vegetables and giblets. Then boil vigorously until reduced to 2 cups (500 mL). Whisk in arrowroot or tapioca starch until smooth. Continue to simmer until thickened. Set aside.


    When turkey is done, strain 1/2 cup (125 mL) pan juices into gravy. Whisk in. Add seasonings, to taste. Transfer to gravy boat and serve alongside turkey.


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    This recipe is part of the Festive Fusions collection.



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