BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) – Tired of cooking up a dry turkey every Thanksgiving? A local chef says you’re probably doing it wrong.

Chef Jason Stoops insists the secret to a juicy bird is to cut it apart — the breast, legs, wings and back — and cook each piece separately.

But before that begin with a flavorful brine composed of two gallons of water, a liberal amount of salt, sugar, lemons, garlic, onions, peppercorns, tarragon and parsley.

The bird should soak overnight and will then be ready to roast — without any added seasoning.

Stoops said the ideal temperature for the white meat is 300 degrees.

“We cook the turkey breast real slow in low, because it’s such a large piece of meat and there’s not a whole lot of fat inside of the turkey breast itself,” Stoops told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “The turkey legs we do a couple different cooking applications, one of which, though, is a little bit hotter so that some of the fat that’s inside the turkey legs starts to break down a little bit.”

Use a meat thermometer to check each piece until it reaches at least 165 degrees.

“In order to get them both at that range at the same time is kind of impossible unless you alter when you put them in the oven,” Stoops said.

Be sure to resist the urge to carve the turkey right away. Let it rest to keep the juices inside and complete the cooking process until serving.

Here’s the recipe: 

2 gallon water
2 cups of kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1-2 bunches fresh tarragon
1-2 bunches fresh Italian parsley
4 bay leaves
1 cup of garlic cloves
1-2 medium onions sliced
5-6 T black peppercorns
4 lemons halved

Combine all the above ingredients and simmer until salt and sugar have dissolved. Let brine cool completely and totally immerse turkey inside (may have to use a weight, such as a plate to keep it submerged).

Brine the meat for 24-36 hours, remove and rinse lightly prior to roasting.


[Having turkey trouble? Butterball experts will be manning the phones to handle questions or concerns through Thanksgiving Day. Call the hotline at 844-877-3456 or visit].


Leave a Reply