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Chef Jay's Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Saturday, November 23, 2019

I know many of you are coming to our Thanksgiving Buffet on Thursday but in case you will be cooking at home this year, I am sharing my Turkey brine recipe and cooking tips with you.  I always brine my turkey so I get a moist and flavorful bird.

Brine Recipe

1/2 gallon hot water
1 lb. Kosher salt
8 lbs. ice
16 C. vegetable stock
2/3 C. sugar

Turkey Recipe

18 lb. turkey
1/2 C. butter (1 stick) at room temperature
Salt and Pepper - enough to cover the turkey, about 1 Tbsp. each
2 carrots, chunked
2 stalks celery, chunked
1 small onion, quartered
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Fresh Sage


In a large pot, dissolve salt and sugar in hot water.  Add vegetable broth and ice.  Pour into a clean cooler and brine the turkey for 8-12 hours.  At home, I use one of those tall round water coolers like construction workers use.  It holds everything perfectly.  You can buy vegetable stock or make your own by boiling carrots, celery, onions, and bay leaves with water for a few hours (feel free to add fresh herbs in to the stock if you like).

Pre-heat oven to 500 F.

After brining, dry the turkey completely.  Then, take a sheet of foil and shape it around the turkey breast, only covering the breast.  You are doing this now while it is cold so you have the right shape and don't burn your hands when the turkey is hot.  Remove the foil and set it aside for later.  Rub the butter all over the skin of the turkey.  Season with salt and pepper inside and out.  LOOSELY pack the cavity with the carrots, celery, onion, and fresh herbs (This is only for flavoring the bird from all sides - do not eat these herbs and veggies!)

Turkey buttered and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Bake at 500 F for 30 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 350 F and remove the turkey from the oven.

Turkey after 30 minutes at 500 F.

Spray the underside of the foil cover you made earlier with non-stick spray and place it over the breast.  Return the turkey to the oven and bake for 2-2.5 hours at 350 F.  During this time DO NOT open the oven door.

Turkey breast covered with foil before 2 more hours of cooking.

After 2 hours, check the bird with a meat thermometer.  The breast should read 160 F and the thigh 180 F.  If it is not up to temp, continue cooking for the last half hour.  If it is up to the proper temps, remove it from the oven and let it rest.  The temperature of the turkey will rise to 165 F while it rests.  PLEASE let it rest for at least half an hour before you carve it so it stays juicy and flavorful!  Be sure to discard the herbs and vegetables you used to flavor the inside of the bird.

Resting turkey.

Now, when you carve your turkey, don't try to slice the meat on the carcass.  Start at the breast bone, slice down and follow the rib cage to remove the whole side of the breast.  Then, slice it on your cutting board.  slide your knife under the sliced breast and place it on your platter.  Slide your palm or knife down the breast to give it a shingled look.

Both breasts removed, one fully sliced.

Next, remove the wings and legs.  Then, slice the dark meat.

Fully carved and plated.

I hope you enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Chef Jay Snider
Executive Chef, TPCC

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Your comments:
Readers comments:

john Landwehr, 1/17/2020 1:08:01 PM EST   55555
That gets five stars. Thanks Jay.

Scott, 11/28/2019 6:37:23 PM EST   55555
Looks fantastic and I bet it tastes even better! Thanks Jay! 

Scott, 11/28/2019 6:37:15 PM EST   55555
Looks fantastic and I bet it tastes even better! Thanks Jay! 

Dave Buck, 11/26/2019 5:06:18 PM EST   55555
Great Job! 

Kelly Cocanougher, 11/23/2019 4:11:35 PM EST   55555
You're making me hungry!