Across the Table: Talking Turkey

November 21, 2015

Hungry for Truth, an initiative from South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, has launched a new web series.

It’s the debut episode of the Across the Table series, and we’re talking turkey. Ready to switch up your same old turkey recipe this Thanksgiving? Read on for a fresh take on the traditional turkey with our apple and sage brined turkey recipe.

In this episode of Across the Table, we sat down with Dennis Thomas, a turkey processor from Dakota Provisions in Huron, South Dakota, to talk about how farmers raise the healthy turkeys that end up on your table.

One interesting fact we learned from Thomas is that turkeys are actually not raised in cages, but in open-air buildings. “Turkeys like to have circulation and ventilation just like people do,” Thomas explained. “The turkeys are totally protected from the environment and outside predators, and truthfully, they’re totally protected from humans too, because humans can sometimes carry disease in with them. We do a lot to protect the birds so they stay healthy.”

Watch the episode to hear more from Dennis about hot topics in poultry farming, including hormones and avian flu. Also, check back for the next episode where we’re going “Ham for the Holidays.”

Across the Table – Talking Turkey from SD Soybean on Vimeo.

Apple and Sage Brined Turkey


2 cups fresh sage sprigs, divided
6 bay leaves, divided
4 large lemons
12 cups water
8 cups apple cider
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup kosher salt
5 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
12 cups ice
1 12-14-pound turkey
Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Sweet cherries, for garnish
Additional sage sprigs, for garnish


Reserve two sage sprigs and one bay leaf for stuffing inside turkey cavity. Remove and cut up peel from lemons; juice lemons. In a 16-quart stockpot, combine lemon juice and peels, remaining sage sprigs, remaining bay leaves, water, cider, sugar, salt, garlic and peppercorns. Cover and heat over high heat until mixture is steaming, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat. Add the ice and let stand until ice melts and mixture is cool.

Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey cavity. Place turkey in stockpot with cooled brine. Cover and chill for 8 to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine, pouring excess brine from cavity; discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Stuff reserved sage and bay leaf inside turkey cavity. Tie drumsticks together with all-cotton kitchen string. Place turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with oil and sprinkle with chopped sage. Insert an ovenproof thermometer into the center of an inside thigh muscle. Thermometer should not touch bone. Cover turkey loosely with foil.

Roast turkey for 2-1/2 hours. Remove foil and cut kitchen string between drumsticks so thighs cook evenly. Continue roasting 1 hour more or until internal temperature of innermost part of thigh, the wing and thickest part of breast is 165 degrees and turkey is no longer pink. Juices should run clear and drumsticks should move easily in their sockets.

Remove turkey from oven. Cover with foil; let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with sweet cherries and additional sage sprigs.

Print the recipe here: Apple Sage Brined Turkey Recipe

The Across the Table series, hosted by Oh My Cupcakes! owner, Melissa Johnson, focuses on the connection between food and farming. Each episode features a seasonal recipe and demonstration, an interview with a farmer on hot topics and man-on-the-street questions from local South Dakotans.

If you have questions about food and farming, send us a message to get answers from local farmers.

Thank you to our sponsors Hy-Vee, Dakota Provisions and Oh My Cupcakes! for their support of Across the Table and the Hungry for Truth initiative.