The Ultimate Moist Turkey: Brined Herb Butter Roasted Turkey and Gravy

By Erika on November 23rd, 2013 / / 8 Comments

Have you ever made a stinker of a turkey? I have. And it was a real bummer because it’s a big holiday with lots of people looking at you expecting a great turkey…and then smiling politely while they pour tons of gravy on the turkey and chew it forever before they can actually swallow, ugh.

The turkey is the centerpiece of this great holiday so why not take a little extra time ahead of time to make it spectacular?  This is the ultimate moist and flavorful turkey. There is the double whammy of the brine and the herb butter, and a triple whammy if you decide to start with your turkey upside down for an even moister turkey! Try one, two or all three of the methods, and remember to have fun!

The one thing you have to remember when brining a turkey, your drippings will be saltier than if you didn’t brine, so you have to adjust accordingly (see gravy instructions below).

Please check out my Poultry Roasting Chart so you can see how long to cook your turkey! Also see my step-by-step photos below the recipe here.

Please see my blog with photos on Brining a Turkey- It’s So Easy! for step-by-step directions for just the brining, and see below the recipe for step-by-step instructions for the brining, herb butter and gravy.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey: Brined Herb Butter Turkey; Step by Step Instructions for the BEST Moist Roast Turkey! | The Hopeless Housewife

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey: Brined Herb Butter Turkey; Step by Step Instructions for the BEST Moist Roast Turkey! | The Hopeless Housewife

 

 

The Ultimate Moist Turkey: Brined Herb Butter Roasted Turkey and Gravy

The Ultimate Moist Turkey: Brined Herb Butter Roasted Turkey and Gravy

Ingredients

For the brine:

  • 1 1/2 gallons water
  • 1 quart apple juice or 1 bottle sweet white wine like a Riesling
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed with back of knife, then minced
  • 1-1/2 cups coarse salt, like kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  • 1 quart ice water
  • 1 turkey (preferably fresh, frozen turkeys contain an injected salt solution)

For the herb butter turkey:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature, divided
  • 2 teaspoons each minced fresh thyme, sage and rosemary, chopped finely
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth, heated

For Gravy:

  • Pan drippings from turkey
  • 3 cups turkey stock (preferably made from giblets but you may used store-bought stock)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each fresh thyme and sage, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Instructions for the brine:
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot, except turkey and ice water. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool for about 30 minutes, adding ice water to speed the process.
  3. When the liquid has cooled completely, pour into a large brining bag or pot, and add the turkey. Seal the bag or cover the pot, and put in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours.
  4. When ready to roast the turkey, take it out of the brine and rinse in cold water. Submerge turkey in cold water in the sink or pot for 10-15 minutes. Remove turkey and pat dry.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Instructions for the herb butter and roasting turkey:
  7. Mix 1 stick of butter with the thyme, rosemary and sage in a bowl. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Gently make a small opening in between skin and meat of turkey breast, and rub herb butter under the skin, hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub it over the skin as well. Put turkey in a roasting pan (one with a rack inside). (If you are feeling adventurous, you can also roast the turkey upside down for the first hour, just make sure there is herb butter on the backside as well. This will make an even moister turkey). Stuff turkey, or season cavity with salt, pepper herbs and butter if you aren't stuffing it. Make sure turkey legs are tied and wings tucked under.
  9. Put turkey on the lowest rack, and roast 30 minutes. Open oven door to release some heat, and reduce temperature to 350°. Roast turkey for 30 more minutes, opening up oven to baste in pan drippings and adding hot broth (and to flip turkey over if you started your turkey upside down- use silicone gloves so you don't burn your hands). Cover with foil loosely or with pan lid (if using a lid, make sure there is a small opening at the top of lid for steam to escape, or put lid on slightly crooked. This will ensure that your turkey isn’t "steamed").
  10. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, basting with pan drippings and adding hpt broth every hour. Depending on the size of the turkey, you will need to roast an additional 2 1/2 - 3 hours longer (a stuffed turkey will take longer). For a 14 pound turkey like ours, we are roasting it bout 3 1/2- 4 hours.
  11. Since the turkey is brined, the pan drippings will be salty, making for a salty gravy. You can pour juices into a fat separator and use the juices sparingly for a delicious gravy (see recipe below).
  12. Transfer turkey to platter and let stand about 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Carve and serve.
  13. Instructions for the roasted turkey gravy for a brined turkey:
  14. Pour all the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator cup. Let sit until juices settle to the bottom and the fat rises.
  15. Once the juices have settled, take 4 tablespoons of the fat from the cup and add it back to the roasting pan. Put the roasting pan across two burners set at medium.
  16. Sprinkle flour into the pan, and use a wooden spatula to mix with the fat. Pour a few tablespoons of the juices into a saucepan with 1/2 cup of the new turkey broth and whisk it really well to combine.
  17. Keep adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly, until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Bring the gravy to a simmer (you may add the wine at this time if you'd like) for 5-10 minutes.
  18. Strain gravy through a fine sieve and add chopped sage and thyme.
  19. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


 Step-by-step instructions:

Here is everything you’ll need to brine your turkey.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 1 | The Hopeless Housewife

 

Pour the wine…

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

peppercorns…

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

salt…..

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

 

 

herbs…

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 6 | The Hopeless Housewife

 

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey  | The Hopeless Housewife

onion and garlic….

 

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Bring it to a boil and remove it from heat. Everything should looks slightly cooked.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey  | The Hopeless Housewife

Add ice water to speed up the cooling process. You can’t put the turkey in until it’s completely cooled.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Submerge turkey in the cooled brine (or put in brining bag and seal).

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Cover, and into the refrigerator for 12-24 hours!

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey  | The Hopeless Housewife

 

Now it’s time to rinse the turkey in cold water and submerge it in clean water for 10-15 minutes. You need to rinse well because of the salt in the brine. Pat dry.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey  | The Hopeless Housewife

Submerge turkey in cold water in the sink or pot for 10-15 minutes.

This is where you can cook your turkey anyway you’d like, including our recipe for the Ultimate Moist Turkey- Brined Herb Butter Turkey and Gravy below, or you can continue on to your own preferred way of cooking.

So you’re all ready to to start the herb butter now that your turkey is brined, rinsed and dry. Mix 2 teaspoons each of chopped sage, rosemary and thyme into 1 stick of softened butter.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 15 | The Hopeless Housewife

 

 

 

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey  | The Hopeless Housewife

Gently slide you hands between skin and breast meat and place the herb butter under the skin on both sides of the breast.  Rub on the outside of the skin as well.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Stuff the turkey (this will take longer to roast if stuffed) or sprinkle empty cavity with salt and pepper, and stuff with herbs.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 20 | The Hopeless Housewife

 

Tie or secure the legs and tuck the wings.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Put the turkey into a roasting pan and place into a 425 degree oven and roast 30 minutes.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey | The Hopeless Housewife

Open oven door to release some heat, and reduce temperature to 350°. Roast turkey for 30 more minutes, opening up oven to baste in pan drippings and broth (and flip turkey over if you started your turkey upside down- use silicone gloves so you don’t burn your hands). Cover with foil loosely or with pan lid. Roast another 1 hour, then baste with pan drippings, then add more broth to pan.

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 23 | The Hopeless Housewife

The Ultimate Moist Roast Turkey 24 | The Hopeless Housewife

Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, basting with pan drippings and adding broth every hour. Depending on the size of the turkey, you will need to roast an additional  2 1/2- 3 hours longer (a stuffed turkey will take longer).

For the roasted turkey gravy for a brined turkey:

Pour all the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator cup. Let sit until juices settle to the bottom and the fat rises.

Once the juices have settled, and fat has risen to the top,  pour 4 tablespoons of the fat into the roasting pan.

Sprinkle the flour into the roasting pan and combine with a wooden spoon or spatula to make a paste.

 

Pour 3 tablespoons pf the pan juices that settle to the bottom of the fat separator plus 1/2 cup of the new turkey broth into the flour mixture. and whisk well to combone. If there are a few lumps, don’t worry– you will be straining this mixture later.

Keep adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly, until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Bring the gravy to a simmer for 5-10 minutes (you may add the wine at this time if you’d like) .

When the gravy is the desired consistency, pour through a strainer into a small bowl or saucpan.

 

Return gravy to the roasting pan and add chopped sage and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

 

show comments 8 responses

  • Candace says:

    I printed all 18 pages…. I’m going to try a Hopeless Thanksgiving. YUM!

  • Jordy says:

    Amazing! Everything looks delicious…I am going to try them all!!

  • Haley S says:

    My mom sent me your link. Looks great Erika. This will be my first Tday cooking for my family and in-laws. Keep ya posted on how it goes! Hope you are all well.

  • Dolores says:

    This look increable, going to use this for my turkey this year. Thank you

  • I cooked a stinker of a Turkey last year so I’m hoping to redeem myself this year. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Tiffani says:

    Used this recipe/technique two years ago and it was the most delicious turkey- even though we brined it in a home depot bucket in the dnow outside! People couldn’t get enough. Used it again last year and will this year. Thanks!

  • Leave a Reply to Candace