So now that the day of stress is over… the long and short of it is this: all the time and trouble I went to to brine the turkey didn’t really amount to much payoff. I can’t know how the turkey would have been had I not gone to the effort, but the fact that I did didn’t seem to pay off too much. I mean, the turkey tasted great, but it didn’t knock my socks off. I didn’t detect a bit of the apple cider or the garlic, and the white meat of the bird still ended up being a little dry. I do think all the sugar in the cider and the brine contributed to the turkey skin turning a very dark mahogany brown, but that’s about it.
The D’Artangan free-range, organic turkey took about 2½ hours to cook, including the half-hour for the skin to brown. And as I carved it up, I was surprised at the amount of fat that still remained, since turkey is a notoriously lean bird — so lean, it ends up being dry.
I think, given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have stuck with my standard brine mix (described in this post) since it’s much more assertive. With all of the other things on the plate, vying for a place on the palate, the mild cider brine just wasn’t enough.