The Thanksgiving turkey has come to our table roasted, smoked and deep-fried, basted, injected and rubbed. All are tasty, but I was not prepared for the just how tasty the turkey could be with a brine. I always suspected it would be too salty. I was wrong. Best of all, you can brine that turkey then cook it however you please.
I first brined the turkey in 2009 using Alton Brown's recipe. It was so tasty and moist, but there were some concerns that it was a bit too sweet, so I reduced the amount of sugar and increased the spices in the brine in 2010. I think we got the balance just right for us with that little change.
Now for a few caveats:
1) You must plan ahead for this one. Brining the bird takes at least 8 hours and the brine itself must be boiled then completely cooled before that. Plan on starting mid-day the day before you want to eat the turkey.
2) Brining might be messy. I'd advise you to do as much outside as possible so you don't end up with a brined kitchen floor.
3) You'll need a large container that can be sealed, think 5-gal bucket with lid or an ice chest lined with a large plastic bag (easier than disinfecting or pulling out a picnic smelling of the brine come July). I use a 13 gal garbage bag - no colors or scents please.
It sounds like a lot more work than roasting and basting. True, there are a few more steps and hours involved, but it's so worth it.