Brine Option 1:
If you have planned ahead, this option will give you more flavors as the sugar and salt crystals completely dissolve. In a large pot, add beer, salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, onion, celery, carrots, lemon and garlic. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Add the ice or cold water; it will help cool the brine solution. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until brine is well chilled.
Brine Option 2:
In a large container or or a cleaned ice cooler, add all the ingredients (water instead of ice) except the chicken or turkey; mix well.
Use either a large 3-4 gallon container or a cleaned ice cooler and add the turkey, then top off with the brine (for the ice cooler, add a few zip lock bags full of ice). Place in the refrigerator or ice cooler for 24-48 hours.
Oven Cooking Instructions:
Follow either brine option 1 or 2. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the turkey from the brine and dry well. This will help the browning of the skin, as moisture will steam instead of roast the turkey. Truss the bird with twine, to help hold its shape and to aid in cooking the turkey evenly. I highly recommend using a temperature probe to make sure the turkey is cooked to a certain temperature (165°F) vs a length of time. If you don’t have a probe, a16-20 pound turkey should take between 3.5 and 4 hours to fully cook at this temp. Check both the breast and the thigh temperature to make sure the turkey is evenly cooked.
Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This will help the keep a moist turkey by letting the meat relax and re-distribute its juices.
Instead of using an oven, use a smoker and keep the temperature at 250°F until the internal temp is 165°F. For wood chips, I would recommend Apple, Pecan or Cherry wood chips soaked for 30 minutes in the same beer you used in the brine.
* For Beer, my suggestions are: Oktoberfest, Hefeweizen, Bock, Pale Ale, or Brown Ale. You may use a Stout or Porter if you wish, just cut the brine time to 6 hours or the bird will just taste like a Stout or Porter.
Here is a updated classic recipe for a roasted turkey. Brining is different than marinating or salt curing a meat/poultry product. Being a liquid high in sodium and sugar, osmosis removes the liquid in the product and replaces it with flavors that hydrate the meat, increases the tenderness by denaturing the proteins and helps preserve the ingredient.