No reason to stress over the Thanksgiving turkey, brining will keep this Smoked Paprika Turkey juicier than you can imagine. A few more seasonings are all you need for the most flavorful bird.
I can still recall the sound of my mother banging around in the kitchen on Thanksgiving mornings. There was always this crazy kind of rush to get the turkey in the oven while it was dark out. I'm still bewildered by this. The funny thing is, I can't recall ever eating Thanksgiving dinner before 5pm. Ever. I’m still not quite sure why the turkey took so long to cook, but it does kind of explain why it was so, so dry…sorry mom.
I know a lot of people really stress about making the Thanksgiving turkey. The pressure can be overwhelming with so many people counting on you to make their holiday taste perfect. That's a lot to live up to! But I’m here to tell you it’s not that difficult to make a juicy Thanksgiving turkey. Not hard at all.
There are two special, secret weapons when it comes to turkey-making perfection. The first is a meat thermometer (my favorite), preferably digital, and the ability to brine your turkey – this means you need a clean, 5-gallon bucket (a large cooler works well too).
Brining makes a huge difference in flavor and how moist and juicy your turkey will taste. If you're going to spend so much time cooking this piece of poultry, why have it turn out less than awesome? Brining makes a huge difference.
If you refer back to cell biology in high school, you'll probably remember the terms "osmosis" and "diffusion." If furthered your science studies in college biochemistry, you already understand the denaturing of proteins as well. This process is basically what happens when we brine.
With the process of osmosis, the high salt solution of the brine passes through permeable meat cells when you begin soaking your turkey overnight. Diffusion creates the balance of the salt and water in the meat and the salt and water from the surrounding brine solution. This results in a higher concentration of salt and water in the meat and less water loss during the cooking process.
The salty concentration is going to denature the protein strands found in the meat, taking them from a tightly wound-up shape to an unwound and tangled state. Can you picture it? It’s the tangled-up structure that traps the water molecules and holds onto them while cooking. Amazing, right? This will pretty much ensure the juiciness of your turkey.
Sorry for all the science-nerd information. As a trained winemaker, it's hard to hold the science in and it comes out in the most peculiar places...like here.
The next juicy, turkey, secret weapon is the meat thermometer. Using a digital version makes it so you won't have to keep opening the oven to check the temperature. It will save you so much stress in the long run and you won't overcook the bird. You just won't. It’s a lifesaver and a great investment for all the meat you cook. I promise you will use it all of the time.
I season my turkey with very few ingredients. It doesn’t need anything else, especially with all the flavorful side dishes we serve during the Thanksgiving meal.
The Juiciest Smoked Paprika Turkey
Other Juicy Turkey Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Brined Lemon-Herb Aioli Style Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey
- Citrus and Herb Butter Roast Turkey
- Brandy and Tangerine Glazed Roasted Turkey
- Slow Cooker Whole Turkey
- The Juciest Salt and Pepper Turkey made in an Electric Roaster
- One Year Ago: Gooey Root Beer Chocolate Chip Cake
- Four Years Ago: 35 Apple Desserts You Must Make