How to Brine and Roast a Turkey
Tom Cusack, our very own Bell & Evans Controller (retired), has perfected Brining of our Bell & Evans Turkey after years of trial and error. At the end of 2018, Tom ended his illustrious career at Bell & Evans, spending a few months vacationing on a remote tropical island. We’re happy to say that he’s be back in Pennsylvania for the traditional Turkey Brining ceremony. As a parting gift to us, he shared his tried and true recipe and method for brining. Thank you, Master of all Turkeys! Watch our video below.
The art of brining
According to Tom, there is an art to turkey brining. It takes proper planning and scheduling. The brine should be made on a Tuesday evening after work, then put outside in a safe but cool space to chill overnight. Outside works great for Central Pennsylvania and colder weather. If you live down South or in warmer temperatures, you should refrigerate your brine. Wednesday evening, put the turkey in the brine and put the pail back outside to brine it overnight, turning 2-3 times while in the brine. This ensures the entire turkey soaks in the brine at some point. Even if it interrupts your beauty sleep. In the end, it’s all worth it. You see the smiles on family members’ faces, belly patting and the much-sought-after explanation post-meal. “Yes. You are the master of turkeys.” That doesn’t happen from simply roasting a turkey.
roasting the perfect turkey
Our turkeys have 55% less fat and 25% fewer calories, and are juicy and flavorful. So they cook a little differently than your standard turkey. We’re going to share a few of our best kept secrets for Roasting the perfect Bell & Evans Turkey. First, it’s important to preheat the oven to 425° and bake at that for the first 15 minutes. That will crisp the skin up before starting the slow roast for the remainder of the time at 325° F.
Second, measure a section of cheesecloth to fit perfectly on your turkey. Cheesecloth can be found in any grocery store in the baking aisle. If you’ve always wondered what it’s used for, now you know. For detailed instructions on using the cheesecloth, please see our TURKEY RECIPE
Adding the pre-soaked cheesecloth will ensure that the flavor of the butter sauce and herbs will soak into the turkey and STAY THERE. Second, the turkey can then be basted directly on and through the cheesecloth. We know… this sounds a little out-of-the-ordinary. But trust us… it works!
Lastly, even though it will smell so delicious that you want to slice into it as soon as it’s out of the oven, let it rest for about 20 minutes to an hour before serving. That “resting” period will allow some turkey juices to weep, but most of the juiciness will stay in the turkey until you’re ready to slice and serve it.
Where is the recipe for the butter sauce and herbs that go on the cheese cloth?
Good catch, Hal! It’s in our Turkey Recipe. Here is a link.
Does this brine solution sweeten the turkey?
Hi Lori! The acid and the sugars combine to tenderize the turkey. It won’t make it sweet, but if you are concerned, you can cut the brown sugar measurement in half.
Do all Bell & Evans turkeys come with a pop up thermometer?
Hi Lisa, only our RWA Whole Turkeys and Turkey Breasts (not Brined or Organic) have the pop-up timer.
I just bought a turkey at your Fredericksburg store today and I am wondering are there any tips for smoking your turkeys? Thanks!
Hi Jen, we haven’t tested smoking the turkeys yet. If you try it, please let us know how it works out!
Do you advise brining the turkey along with the cheesecloth basting method or just one or the other individually?
Hi Laura, for the best possible turkey, we recommend using both recipes. The brining kicks the flavor up a notch, and the cheesecloth basting happens while you are cooking the turkey and helps to keep it moist during the roasting.
After the turkey is taken out of the brine, does it need to be rinsed off before it goes into the roasting pan and placed in the oven?
Hi Jim! No, it does not need to be rinsed before going into the roasting pan. One handy tip when making your turkey: All of our turkeys contain a pop-up timer. They are mostly accurate, however if it has not activated within ½ hour of the scheduled roasting time, remove the turkey and check for doneness using a meat thermometer. The finished turkey should have an internal temperature of 173°F.
Can I stuff a brined turkey. I’m going to try one of your turkeys this year (for 10 people). I usually get about a 16-18 lb turkey & put 2 different stuffings in each “cavity” or should I cook the stuffings separately? Also, I always have roasted my turkey breast side down for the first 25 minutes & then turn it — assuming I don’t need to do this with your fresh turkey…
Hi Holley, If you typically use two different stuffings in a turkey, that should work fine in ours also. A brined turkey is no different in the way it cooks than a regular turkey. If you use the cheesecloth method, you shouldn’t have to turn it. The skin should most likely be crispier on the breast if you use the cheesecloth method—including regular basting. It may be more juicy, though if you cook it the way you usually do. If you like turkey the way you normally cook it, use that same method. However, please do not rely on the timer for doneness. Make sure you temp your bird with a meat thermometer to ensure it isn’t over or under cooked.
When do you take the cheese cloth off?
Hi Paul! You can remove the cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes of roasting time to crisp the skin. Check our our turkey recipe here for detailed instructions. https://www.bellandevans.com/recipe/turkey-recipe/
Do you recommend using a bit of baking powder to add crispness to skin? If so, when and how would you apply the powder.
Hi John! We’ve never tested baking powder to crisp the turkey skin. If you try it, let us know how it works out!
Can you use apple juice instead of apple cider for brining?
Hi Doug! Yes, just make sure it’s unsweetened apple juice so that it’s not too far off the flavor of the recipe.
When do you take the cheesecloth off
You can remove the cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes of roasting time to crisp the skin. Check our our turkey recipe here for detailed instructions. https://www.bellandevans.com/recipe/turkey-recipe/
Hi! I bought one of your pre-brined turkeys this year. My question is if it’s already brined, do I still salt and season the outside and inside of the bird like I would a non-brined turkey? Would that make it too salty? Or do I just put it in the oven as is?
Hi Charmaine, season the skin with salt, pepper. You can also baste with drippings or butter (optional)