Maple Brined Turkey with Wild Rice Stuffing
Brining your turkey makes it juicy and perfectly salted… but brining with maple syrup also adds that element of sweetness that makes your taste buds jump!
- 1 organic, free-range turkey (16 – 22 pounds), giblets removed
- 8 – 10 quarts pure filtered water
- 2 cups pure maple syrup
- 2 cups sea salt
- ¼ cup whole black peppercorns
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 cups wild or brown rice, cooked
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
Directions for brining (Start brining 1 day ahead):
- Place water, maple syrup, salt, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves into a large stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring, until the salt completely dissolves.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Line a second large stock pot (or bucket) with an extra-large roasting bag or unscented garbage bag. Place the turkey inside.
- Pour the brine over the turkey to completely cover. Close the bag and tie shut.
- Refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours). If you don’t have room in the refrigerator, simply place the stockpot into a large wash sink or bucket filled with ice. Temperature must be kept at 40°F or below.
Directions for roasting:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the turkey from the bag and pat dry. Discard brine.
- Stuff the cavity with chopped apple, chopped red onion, and cooked rice.
- Place turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack and completely cover with foil. (For extra juicy breast meat, position your turkey breast-side down in the roasting rack.)
- Roast the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, removing the foil during the last hour for a crispy, golden skin. Example: If your turkey is 17 pounds, you’ll cook it for a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes, or until a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg reaches at least 165°F.
- Carve turkey, and mix a bit of the drippings from the bottom of the pan in with the Wild Rice Stuffing from the cavity of the bird.
- Dig in.
After all the meat is carved from the turkey, add the leftover carcasses and bones to your slow cooker, fill with purified water, and add a splash of vinegar (about 1 tablespoon). Cook on low for at least 4 hours (up to 24 hours). This will make a delicious turkey soup stock that will be rich in minerals and protein, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or as a snack.
If you’re anything like me, you’re already drooling thinking about your Thanksgiving feast…
Roast turkey wafting from the oven, sweet potatoes, cranberries— and don’t forget the stuffing!
I dig stuffing, and as much as we’d all like to go on pretending that stuffing was invented by the Pilgrims and Native Americans on this day of gratitude… it wasn’t.
Stuffing the cavity of a roasted animal has been around since our wild ancestors first started, well, roasting animals!
Once the organs are removed, it makes sense to fill the cavity with other things that could potentially be delicious. So, then our little Pilgrims opened up their bag of bread cubes—
Wait! No, they didn’t!
Let’s bust another myth. It’s very unlikely that Pilgrims stuffed their fowl with bread—wheat flour was rare in New England in 1621.
In fact, they may not have even had turkey, as wild pheasant, geese, and duck were much more abundant… but that’s for another conversation entirely.
Historians believe that the first Thanksgiving fowl would have been stuffed with nuts, onion, spices, organ meats, and perhaps apples, squash, or rice.
These ingredients are much closer to what our ancestors were stuffing their roasted meats with 500,000 years ago.
In fact, the oldest known cookbook, Apicius de re Coquinaria, written in Rome in the early 1st Century A.D., records recipes for stuffed fowl, pig, and even dormouse (yes, mouse) consisting of chopped herbs, vegetables, nuts, and organ meats.
Today, we’d like to share our favorite turkey recipe stuffed with wild rice.
When your stuffing is flavored right, you don’t miss the stale bread at all.
Want More Recipes Like This One?
If you’re looking for more recipes to round out your holiday party, check out the Fat-Burning Tribe to access our entire library of wild recipes, and to download our new Holiday Meal Plan.
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Did you make this turkey? Leave a comment below to let us know how it turned out, and what else you enjoyed with your feast.