Riesling and Warm Spices Brined Turkey with Riesling Gravy

By Donna Dang

  • Yield:

    10-13 Servings


  • 1 12-15 pound fresh whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 6 large stalks celery
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 quart (4 cups) plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 1 cup dry Riesling wine
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

For the brine:

  • 1 quart (4 cups) and 6 quarts (24 cups) water, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups sea salt, or kosher salt
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 5-6 sprigs rosemary
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry Riesling wine


  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, add all of the brine ingredients except 6 quarts (24 cups) water and 1 1/2 cups dry Riesling wine. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. In a 5 gallon stockpot or bucket, place the turkey neck side down and pour the brine over the turkey followed by the 1 1/2 cups Riesling wine and 6 quarts (24 cups) water. Refrigerate overnight or in a large cooler with ice for 12 to 15 hours.
  3. Line the bottom of the roasting pan with the onions and celery stalks. Add the butter and fill the pan with 1 quart (4 cups). Place the roasting rack on top of the pan.
  4. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse, and place the turkey onto the roasting rack breast side up. Tuck the wings under the turkey.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover the whole turkey with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F and cook until internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F. Tip: For every pound of turkey, add 13 minutes to your cooking time. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to make it brown evenly.
  6. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the turkey to a serving platter, and cover with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the roasting pan rack, onions and celery. Strain the pan juices through a sieve into a 2 quart saucepan and add 1 cup of dry Riesling wine. Cook the sauce on medium-high heat until boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by 1/2 cup.
  8. Whisk 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Add more cornstarch mixture as needed to get the desired consistency. Yields approximately 4 cups of gravy.