Smaller breast-only turkeys may serve well for some families. The large 22 pound bird is best for others. Your choices are generally frozen, Kosher, and fresh.
If your turkey is frozen and is listed as ‘self-basting’ or ‘added broth’, then this turkey has already been brined, and doing it again will add too much salt and may render it inedible. Kosher turkeys have been dry-brined with salt.
A FRESH turkey is a perfect candidate for brining.
6-8 pound turkey breast will need 1 /2 cup table salt (or 3 /4 cup Kosher) + 1 gallon water
12-17 pounds = 1 cup salt (1 1 /2 cup Kosher) and 2 gallons water
18-22 pounds = 1 1 /2 cups salt (1 3 /4 cup Kosher) and 3 gallons water
Other flavors can be added to the brine. These suggestions are per gallon of water:
2 tablespoons peppercorns (Telicherry or black)
1 /4 cup whole garlic cloves
1 Bouquet Garni or Spice bag
1 bay leaf
For under 8 pounds, the turkey should be submerged in the brine and refrigerated for 3 to 6 hours. For 8 to 22 pounds, at least 6 hours are needed, and it can brine up to 12 hours. Most folks put the turkey in the brine just after those late-night family talks following everyone’s arrival, and remove it in the morning to get it in the oven quickly.
Preparing the stand-alone turkey breast for roasting:
Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and prepare the rubbing mixture.
2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 2 teaspoons baking powder blended together and patted on the skin creates a tasty crispy crunch. If you do not have a V-rack or a roasting rack, then fashion large chunks of carrots, celery and onions in the bottom of the roasting pan to raise the bird for air circulation and proper cooking of the underside. I also add fresh herbs right under the breast to add flavor while oven-roasting.
The table below has the standard guidelines for roasting a turkey, however, please use an instant read thermometer to assure doneness. The thigh on a large turkey should register 175F, and the thickest part of the breast should be 165F. If other items are also cooking in the oven, allow extra time so that all of the meal cooks properly.
Raw Turkey Weight – Starting at 350F , raising to 425 for the final 30-45 minutes
12-14 pounds, 10-12 servings, 2 – 2 ½ hours
15 to 17 pounds, 14-16 servings, 2 ½ - 3 hours
18 to 22 pounds, 20-22 servings, 3 – 3 ½ hours