In our Dairy-Free Classic Thanksgiving Menu of Recipes, I included information about turkeys that might surprise some of you. One is that you don’t need to baste it in butter for delicious crispy skin. Olive oil works equally well. The other is how refrigerated or frozen turkeys from the store can actually contain solution with dairy in it. One way around that issue is to buy a fresh turkey and brine it yourself. And this recipe for holiday brined turkey is the perfect way to do it.
Holiday Brined Turkey with Wine, Shallots, and Cranberries
This holiday brined turkey recipe was actually shared with us by Bertolli, the makers of my go-to olive oil, a couple holidays ago. I have a lot of content to keep up with, and sometimes, things get pushed out … way out. But, in my opinion, recipes are like fine wine. They don’t go out of date, and they can get better with age.
Fortunately, you don’t need to use a fine wine to make this recipe. Any decent Riesling will do. Riesling is used because it’s a more acidic wine. Acid is needed for the brine. You can substitute another aromatic, acidic white wine, like Chenin Blanc or Chablis.
Special Diet Notes: Holiday Brined Turkey
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, paleo, and top food allergy-friendly.
- 1 quart water
- 1½ cups kosher salt
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Riesling wine
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced, divided
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed but left in skins
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, divided
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, slightly crushed, divided
- 1 (16-pound) turkey, giblet package and neck removed
- Ice water, for covering turkey
- ½ cup mild or extra-light olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, bring the 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and mustard seeds to a boil. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Pour the brine into a 5-gallon stockpot or container. Pour in the wine and add one shallot, garlic, thyme (reserving some for stuffing turkey), and 1 cup cranberries.
- Slowly lower the turkey into the brine. Pour enough ice water into the pot to cover the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the turkey for at least 24 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 500ºF.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, and stuff with the remaining shallot, thyme, and cranberries.
- Generously massage olive oil into the skin of the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Use kitchen twine to tie the turkey legs together.
- Roast the turkey for 20 minutes. Lightly brush the skin again with olive oil, and reduce the oven heat to 350ºF. Roast the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 155 to 160ºF. This often takes around 3 hours.
- Allow turkey to rest, loosely covered with foil, for 30 minutes before carving.