I have only made 3 turkeys in my life so I do not claim to be an expert. But if there is one thing I know, I know this brine makes a delicious turkey! When I first read the recipe I thought the idea of orange peels was very weird. But when the turkey was done, I had a bite of the skin that an orange peel had been sitting on for several hours and it was an amazing! The rest of the turkey was nice and moist and flavorful and delicious.
This recipe is slightly altered from the Pioneer Woman's recipe for turkey brine.
what you'll need:
this recipe is for a 20 pound turkey
4 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 gallons of water
3 large oranges
5 cloves of garlic roughly chopped (not pictured above... oops)
1-1/2 cup Kosher salt (also not pictured... double oops)
2 cups brown sugar
4-5 good sized sprigs of fresh Rosemary
3 Tbsp peppercorns
1-1/2 tsp. whole allspice
5 whole bay leaves
1 zip-loc brining bag
Start by thoroughly washing the oranges. Since we're using the peels you want to make sure it's nice and clean. Now, slice the skins off the orange. The best way I've found to do this is the same way I cut a cantaloupe. Cut the top and bottom off the orange.
Then, starting at the top, slice in a curving motion along the side of the orange, removing the skin.
Continue until the whole orange is peeled.
In an extra large pot dump in 1-1/2 gallons of water, apple cider, peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves, rosemary, salt, brown sugar, orange peels, and garlic. Now bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar and the salt have dissolved. Immediately turn off the stove and remove the pot from heat.
Now dump in the other 1/2 gallon of cold water. This will help cool your brine mixture down a little faster.
Put your thawed turkey into your massive zip-loc brining bag. Once your mixture cools down for about 20-30 minutes pour it over the turkey into the bag.
Put the whole bag on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 10-12 hours. About halfway through the time, flip the turkey over in the brine.
When it's about 20 minutes before you're ready to put the turkey in the oven, remove the bag from the fridge. Discard the brine and bag. Thoroughly rinse off your turkey including in BOTH cavities (the first time I made a turkey I was very surprised to find a second cavity at the other end of the body).
Rinsing the brine off the turkey prevents your turkey from being too salty. Then fill up the sink with water and let your turkey soak for 15 minutes. Remove the turkey and pat dry with paper towels and bake however you like!