What’s for (Christmas) dinner – Turkey and gravy

This past weekend, we hosted our very first Christmas for my husband’s family.  This is the first time in six years that we’ve been in the same province as our family for the holidays and we were so excited to have everyone to our home and to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner!

I got this brine recipe from my Aunt Jina, who is definitely one of my “go to” people for excellent recipes.  As always, I was not disappointed!  My husband helpfully told me AFTER I’d put the turkey in the brine that I probably should have heated it first to dissolve the salt, but it still turned out perfectly.


  •  8 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup salt (I used Kosher)
  • 10 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly smashed
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 bay leaves


  1. Combine all the ingredients and place in a large pot (we used a turkey cooking bag in a bucket until the bag split – guess we shouldn’t have tried to use the one from the last time we cooked a turkey 7 or 8 years ago!)
  2. Add turkey to pot making sure the brine covers turkey. Soak for 10 hrs up to 24 hrs (the rule of thumb is an hour per pound).
  3. Remove turkey, RINSE and dry.  Discard brine.
  4. Cook turkey until the internal temperature reaches 180°.

I also tried a new “make ahead” gravy recipe from Jamie Oliver and I will never make turkey gravy any other way.  I loved having it done before the meal and only needing to add the turkey drippings and bring it to a boil – since you make and freeze it ahead, you know that the seasoning is right and it’s just one less thing to worry about on the big day.  This recipe is time consuming but not hard, and is so worth the effort!

I followed the recipe with a few teeny modifications: I didn’t have any star anise and didn’t bother to get any, and I made a mistake while grocery shopping and bought thyme instead of sage (that’s what I get for leaving my list at home!) so that’s what I used.

Here’s what the table looked like :)  In addition to the turkey and gravy, there was stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, homemade buns, ambrosia and cranberry sauce.  We still have leftovers and it’s still a great meal!

3 Comments on What’s for (Christmas) dinner – Turkey and gravy

  1. Kaisa
    December 16, 2010 at 7:10 PM (7 years ago)

    DROOL! That all looks amazing.
    *puts recipe in pocket for a later date*
    One of these days, I will make my own turkey :)

    • Stacey
      December 16, 2010 at 10:19 PM (7 years ago)

      Kaisa, the turkey was super easy! The brine was basically just thrown together, then you let the turkey sit overnight and throw it in the oven – no basting needed because it’s so moist from the brine :) We used a meat thermometer to tell when it was done so we didn’t have to guess, I highly recommend using one!


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