Tea- and Orange-Brined Roasted Turkey

Spike this orange-tea brine with a bit of bourbon to produce a moist, flavorful turkey.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 12 hr 20 min (includes brining and resting times)
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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5 oranges

2 cups kosher salt

1 cup bourbon

1 cup sugar

12 plain tea bags

12 black peppercorns

6 whole cloves

5 bay leaves

One 14- to 16-pound turkey, not kosher or self-basting, giblets removed

1 medium onion, sliced

1 head garlic, halved crosswise

Several sprigs of fresh herbs, like thyme, parsley, rosemary, or sage

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. The day before, remove the zest from the oranges in wide strips using a vegetable peeler, applying gentle pressure so that most of the white pith is left behind. Reserve the zest, juice the oranges and strain into a medium saucepan. Add the zest strips, salt, bourbon, sugar, tea bags, peppercorns, cloves, 4 bay leaves and 4 cups (1 quart) of water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Pour the brine into a plastic container or pot large enough to hold the turkey, add 20 cups (5 quarts) of ice water and stir to combine. Submerge the turkey, adding more ice water if needed. Weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.
  2. The next day, drain, rinse and pat the turkey dry. Put on a large paper-towel-lined cutting board and let sit out at room temperature until it reaches room temperature, about 1 hour.
  3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Stuff the onion, garlic, herbs and remaining bay leaf inside the cavity. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and brush half of it all over the bird. Sprinkle the skin with black pepper. Tie the legs together with twine. Tuck the wings under the body and put the turkey breast-side-up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil and roast 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours remove foil from turkey and increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 1 hour more.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes. Before serving, remove the vegetables and herbs and discard.
  7. Copyright 2016 Television Food Network, G.P.  All rights reserved.
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