Giving Thanks…Thanksgiving Recipe Series…Citrus Herb Brine, Garlic Balsamic Injection Fried Turkey

Citrus Herb Brine, Garlic Balsamic Injection Fried Turkey

I’ve always been an advocate of the roasted turkey.  I wanted nothing more than Grandma’s juicy roasted turkey every Thanksgiving; and the stuffing from the bird… oh my goodness, the stuffing from the bird was so moist and flavorful.  When I took over cooking the family Thanksgiving meals I continued on Grandma’s tradition of the oven roasted bird with stuffing.  Onions, celery, water chestnuts, flat leaf parsley, and a lot of butter, homemade stock, egg, chopped neck, heart, liver, and gizzards would go into the stuffing.  She’d wash the bird down and season the insides with salt, pepper, sage, and butter.  She then stuffed both cavities of the bird.  Once in the roasting pan she covered the bird with butter, salt, pepper, sage, and a dry white wine.  In the oven the bird went for a couple of hours; then every hour from that point she’d pull the bird out, baste it, and gather the drippings for gravy.  When the bird was done it was golden brown and so deliciously juicy.

I was more than happy to carry on the roasted bird tradition.  It was a few years into our annual turkey feast when my husband expressed interest in frying the bird.  No no no… I made every excuse as to not have a fried bird.  It just didn’t seem the same; it’s not Thanksgiving without a roasted turkey.  “We don’t have the room; it’s too dangerous; what about the stuffing?”  I caved… Last year we moved into our current residence and we now had substantial backyard space…more than enough “safe room” to fry a turkey.  I said “fine, let’s do a comparison”; so we cooked two turkeys that year.  My husband fried a bird and I roasted a bird.  And then… I was converted!  The fried bird was the best tasting turkey I’ve ever had.  It was beyond juicy, the meat had a distinct deep flavor, and the skin was crisp crisp crisp!  It was official; we would be frying the turkey from here on.  After all, with only one oven it freed up the opportunity to cook more rich & delightful side dishes.

This year we chose to purchase our turkey from a local grower, Lisa Knutson of Pasture Chick Ranch.  Lisa grows pasture raised, organic heritage birds.  We fried a 17 pound beauty!

* = organic ingredient
^= local ingredient

Citrus Herb Brine

  • 1 turkey, 15 – 18lbs*^
  • Container with lid
  • Enough water to cover the turkey in the container
  • 2 oranges, quartered*^
  • 2 limes quartered*^
  • 2 lemons quartered*^
  • 10 sprigs of thyme*^
  • 10 sprigs of rosemary*^
  • 2 bunches of sage*^
  • 1 cup brown sugar*
  • 1 cup kosher salt

Quick tip #1give the turkey a rinse and look over to make sure all debris and feathers are removed that may have been missed in packaging.

Quick tip #2 – If your bird is frozen, make sure to do this process a few days ahead of time to make sure your turkey de-thaws in time for cooking.  If your bird is fresh, you may start the process at least 24 hours before cooking.

In a container add the quartered citrus, herbs, brown sugar, and kosher salt.  Add a small amount of water to mix the salt and sugar.  Place the turkey in the container and cover the mixture with cold water, make sure the turkey is covered and submerged.  Place in the refrigerator and brine for 24 hours fresh or at least 3-4 days frozen to ensure a safe de-thaw.

The morning of cooking, remove the bird from the brine and place in a pan to allow drainage.  Remove the bird from the brine at least 2 hours before frying time.  After the bird has been allowed to drain pat dry with a clean towel and place on a dry working surface for the next step…injection!

Garlic Balsamic Marinade

  • 1 food injection needle
  • 12 medium garlic cloves peeled *^
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil *^
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/3 cup olive oil*^
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce*
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Place peeled garlic cloves in a small oven safe dish and cover with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and cover with a lid or tin foil.  Place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the garlic is browned and soft – not crispy.  In a blender or emulsifier cup place roasted garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and blend or emulsion until smooth.  There should be no bits to clog the injection needle.

Place your dried turkey on a clean tray.  Season both the inside of the cavity and the outside with salt and pepper.  With the injection needle depressed, place into the garlic balsamic marinade and pull – this will fill the injection needle tube and it’s now time to inject the bird.  Liquid will release from the injection holes in the bird so please use care when placing the final product into the frying liquid – when water meets hot oil…splat splat splat!


  • Follow your turkey fry equipment manufacturer’s instructions carefully
  • ALWAYS keep a working fire extinguisher within reach
  • Fry your turkey outside in a clear open space
  • Wear proper protection (i.e. heat protected gloves, eye wear, long sleeves, etc.)

Our frying container allowed the max bird weight to be 18 pounds.  Our bird just made it at 17 pounds.  We used peanut oil to fry and it took roughly 30 minutes for the fry oil to come to temperature.  Once the oil is ready, we carefully placed the bird in the fryer and cooking time was for 3 minutes a pound.  Once cooked, carefully place the bird on a drain rack in a pan and rest for at least 15 minutes before carving…enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


2 responses to “Giving Thanks…Thanksgiving Recipe Series…Citrus Herb Brine, Garlic Balsamic Injection Fried Turkey

  1. Pingback: Giving Thanks… Thanksgiving… | The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet

  2. And Yes It was sooooooo delicious, juicy and tender but so was everything else.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s