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Healthy Recipe: Honey Brined Turkey

Submitted By Helen Chin Lui of Healing Place Medfield

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 24-48 hours
Serves: 16-20 people

· 1 fresh frozen whole turkey, thawed or 1 fresh frozen whole turkey about 15-20 lbs
· 8 -10 quarts water
· 2 cups kosher salt
· 1 1/2 cup honey
· 3 -4 teaspoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
· 10 -15 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
· 2 bunches fresh thyme and 1 bunch of fresh sage, 6 bay leaves
· 4 -5 cups chicken stock (fresh or packaged)
· 4 lemons, cut in half
· 4 oranges, cut in half
· 2 -4 teaspoons olive oil

1. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey with cold running water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towels.
2. Prepare brine by mixing water, honey and salt in a large bowl. Stir until honey dissolves. Add 2 lemons and 2 oranges (cut in half) half the thyme and sage (herbs tied together) along with the garlic and black pepper. Add chicken stock. Set aside
3. Line an extra-large stockpot (if you do not have a stockpot big enough you can use a cooler) with a food-safe plastic bag. Place the rinsed turkey in the bag and pour brine over the turkey. Gather the bag tightly around the turkey, causing the turkey to be surrounded by the brine. If there is not enough brine, add more water. Seal the bag and refrigerate the pot, bag and brined turkey for at least 12 hours up to 48. I have brined my turkey in a cooler and left it on my deck for 48 hours.
4. Pre-heat oven to 350°F Remove turkey from brine and pat dry inside and out. Be careful the turkey will be slippery. !! Discard brine. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow (about 2 1/2″ deep) roasting pan.

Almost Turkey Accident: When it is my turn to cook the turkey I usually get up at 6am to start roasting the turkey for the afternoon dinner. Yes, I am one of those people that starts cooking at the crack of dawn. One of my biggest dilemma is how I was going to retrieve the turkey out of the brine solution. I had to think hard about this. The 22 pound turkey has been submerged for two days in brine sitting in a  cooler on the deck. I could ask my family to help but they were all asleep and I didn’t want to wake them. Due to my height challenge I could not levy the turkey out of the cooler without standing on something. I found a sturdy chair. I proceeded to put on new kitchen gloves since I knew the turkey was going to be slippery. Stood on the chair and started to pull the big honking turkey out of the brine solution.
As I was pulling I could feel my feet was starting to slip off the chair. I was tiggering back and forth trying to pull the turkey out of the cooler and not toppled off the deck into the woods.  I called for help but no one heard me. Luckily I caught myself, as I was about to fall over the rail with a turkey in my arms. Funny!! The lesson is don’t let  the turkey win in the wrestling match.
5. Squeeze remaining 2 lemons and 2 oranges into the main turkey cavity. Put the squeezed lemon and orange halves into the cavity along with the rest of the thyme and sage. Coat turkey lightly with oil and sprinkle inside and out with salt, pepper.
6. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone. Roast turkey, basting with poultry stock every half hour or so.
7. Loosely cover with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, remove foil during last hour and a half of cooking time. Continue to roast until thermometer registers 180°F in the thigh, or 170°F in the breast.
8. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before carving.

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