Friendsgiving Turkey Recipe

My friend Holly will tell you the perfect turkey starts with two things, a good bird and a good brine. She's been cooking up the annual turkey for our Friendsgiving shenanigans since 2008 and has almost 10 years of turkey baking excellence to her name. All of our friends agree, that while our family's put up a good holiday meal, Friendsgiving is the real deal meal we most look forward to during the holidays and Holly's turkey is the star of the show.

For the good bird, check out this list of central Illinois farmers raising their turkeys humanely.

For the good brine, check out Holly's Friendsgiving Brine below. Brining is a simple process that requires just a tiny bit of advanced planning, but the results are so worth it. The basic idea is to soak your turkey in a saltwater bath, blended with seasonings, and allow the turkey to absorb, through the power of osmosis (yay science!) all those flavors. A good night of soaking means you'll end up with a tender bird full of flavor.

Holly's Friendsgiving Brine

1 gallon vegetable broth

1 cup sea salt

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

1 Tbsp dried sage

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp dried savory (can sub your favorite seasoning or an herb blend if you can't find traditional dried savory)

1 gallon ice water (ice and water mixed)

1 Tbsp dried orange peel (Or the peel from one whole orange)

Holly left and Maggy right, hold up holiday ham and turkey from Friendsgiving in 2010.

1. In a large pot, combine vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, savory and orange peel. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Make sure sea salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool until room temperature.

2. When broth is cool, pour into clean 5 gallon bucket or a large brining bag (or alternately a large drink cooler) and stir in ice water. Rinse and pat dry turkey and place breast side down in brine. Refrigerate overnight.

(Note: If fitting a 5 gallon bucket in your refrigerator is an issue, you've got several options. If it's cold enough, you can cover the bucket and leave it in your garage or another safe space. A drink cooler is also a great option since it will keep the bird cold all night long. Just make sure to wash it thoroughly before reusing. You can also purchase brining bags at most grocery stores).

3. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Dispose of the brine. Brush turkey with melted butter and cook according to these easy-to-follow guidelines. Keep in mind that a brined turkey cooks 20-30 minutes faster than a regular turkey. Once the turkey is cooked, cover with foil and let rest 20 minutes before cutting. This will insure the juices stay in the meat and you end up with a juicy bird.

Now go and impress!

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