tarragon-brined roast turkey

  • 2 cups (500g) table salt
  • 1 cup (175g) brown sugar
  • 2 bulbs garlic, halved
  • 2 tablespoons crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup (20g) juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 bunch tarragon, plus 1 bunch extra
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 8 litres water, plus 2½ cups (625ml) extra
  • 1 x 5.5kg turkey
  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. To make the brine, place the salt, sugar, garlic, fennel, juniper, peppercorns, half the lemon slices, tarragon, bay and 1 litre of the water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brining liquid into a large (10-litre-capacity) non-reactive container+. Add the remaining 7 litres of water and stir to combine.
  3. Using your hands, carefully loosen the skin of the turkey at the breasts. Tie the legs with kitchen string and tuck the wings underneath. 
  4. Place the turkey, breast-side down, in the brining liquid. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours (but no longer).
  5. Remove the turkey from the container, discarding the brining liquid, and place on a lightly greased wire rack over a deep-sided oven dish. 
  6. Place the butter, lemon rind and crushed garlic in a small bowl and mix to combine. Carefully spread the butter under the loosened skin of the turkey. Place the remaining lemon and extra tarragon inside the cavity.
  7. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Pat the turkey dry with paper towel and brush with the oil. Pour the extra water into the base of the dish. Cover with lightly greased aluminium foil and roast for 1 hour.
  8. Uncover and roast for a further 45 minutes or until the skin is golden and the juices run clear when tested with a skewer. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
    + Non-reactive materials include glass, plastic or stainless steel.
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