Trust me here - you will never again complain, nor hear complaints about dry meat if you make brining the first step in the preparation of your holiday bird. Brining requires nothing more than boiling water with salt, sugar and spices; cooling the mixture; then soaking the turkey in the brine for 12 to 24 hours.
In a 3-to 4-quart saucepan, put the salt, sugar, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and allspice. Add 8 cups of apple cider or juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes; then remove from the heat. Add 4 cups of ice-cold water, stir and set aside to cool.
Have ready a heavy roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey. Place one of the bring bags inside the second one to create a double thickness; then place these bags, open wide, in the roasting pan.
Remove the turkey from its wrapping. Remove the neck and bag of giblets from the main and neck cavities of the bird. Store separately in the refrigerator for making gravy. Stuff the main cavity of the bird with the orange quarters.
Fold back the top third of the bags, making a collar. Place the turkey inside the double-thick bags, stand it upright, unfold the top of the bag, and pour the Apple Cider Brine over the bird. Add an additional 2 cups of cold water. Draw up the top of the inner bag, squeezing out as much air as possible; then secure it closed with a twist tie.
Do the same for the outer bag. Place the turkey, breast-side down, in the roasting pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Turn the turkey 3 or 4 times while it is brining.
Just prior to roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the bags, brine, and any cured herbs or spices remaining on the bird. Discard the oranges and ginger. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. The turkey is now ready to be roasted following the recipe for Butter-Rubbed Turkey with Apple Cider Glaze on this website, or according to your own favorite recipe.
Diane Morgan, The Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books, 2001).
If you would like to purchase this book, please visit Chronicle Books.