This is the perfect treatment for heritage birds, which can be tougher but more flavorful than mass produced frozen turkeys. The brine tenderizes the meat while the robust flavors of the maple cider glaze stands up to the stronger tasting meat. But the recipe is not just for heritage birds: standard turkeys are also made tender and flavorful.
- 1/2 gallon apple cider
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup apple jack liqueur or apple brandy
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 10 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped unpeeled ginger
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 two-inch wide strips fresh orange zest
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1-2 quarts cold water, as needed
- 12-14 pound fresh or thawed frozen turkey
- 3 cups coarsely chopped onion
- 2 cups coarsely chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- To make the brine: combine the cider, maple syrup, apple jack, salt, garlic, ginger, sugar, bay leaves, orange zest, and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve, remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- Clean the turkey, removing all giblets and, if there is one, the pop-up timer. Line a large stockpot with a heavy turkey roasting bag; place the turkey in the bag and pour the brine mixture over the turkey. Add enough cold water to cover the turkey; tie the bag closed and refrigerate 14-18 hours.
- Make the glaze: combine the cider and maple syrup in a 2-quart saucepan over medium high heat, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in butter until melted.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the turkey from the bag and discard the brine. Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels. Add one-third of the chopped onion to the body cavity. Tuck the wing tips behind the turkey’s back and tie the drumsticks together with butcher’s twine. Brush the butter over the entire surface of the turkey. Spread the remaining onion and celery in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place turkey breast side up on top of the vegetables; pour in 1 cup water. Roast 30 minutes; tent loosely with foil and roast another 30 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Roast, basting every 30 minutes for 1 hour 20 to 1 hour 30 minutes longer or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 180°F. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let stand 30 minutes before slicing.
- If desired, strain solids from pan juices and discard any fat that rises to the surface. Spoon pan jus over sliced meat just before serving.