Saturday, November 14, 2009


To get a flavorful turkey, you must start with a brine. Brining adds moisture and flavor to the turkey and helps to keep it from drying out

Supplies: To properly brine a turkey you need to start the night before you plan to cook. You will need a container large enough to hold your turkey and enough brine to cover it. You'll also need *Kosher salt, water, sugar, and enough room to refrigerate it. A large stainless steel stock pot or even a 5 gallon clean plastic bucket would make excellent containers. Whatever container you choose the turkey needs to have enough room to be turned so it should be big. Both Reynolds (Oven Roasting Bag for Turkeys) and Ziploc (XL Storage Bag) make very large food safe sealable bags that are great for brining.

Turkey: Now let's get to the turkey. Wash the bird, inside and out, in cool running water, completely thawed, and should not be a self-basting or Kosher turkey. Self-basting and Kosher turkeys have a salty stock added that will make your brined turkey too salty. A fresh turkey works best, but a completely thawed, previously frozen turkey will work just as well.

Brine Ingredients: To make the brine, mix 1 cup of Kosher salt in 1 gallon of water. You will need more than 1 gallon of water but that’s the ratio to aim. Add up to 1 cup of sugar per gallon of brine, then bring the whole thing to a boil for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Make sure that the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. Be sure to allow it to cool before immersing the turkey.

Set-up: Place the turkey in a bucket or pot (plastic, stainless steel or enamel – not aluminum or other “reactive” metal) pour in enough brine to completely cover the turkey with an inch or two to spare. You do not want any part of the turkey above the surface of the brine. Now you put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Cover the pot and refrigerate for 6 hours - or up to 24 hours

Keep it Cool!: Don't have room in the refrigerator? Try a cooler. A cooler big enough to hold your turkey and makes a good container for your turkey and brine. If the weather is cool, but not freezing you can put the whole thing outside until you need the turkey. If the weather is warm fill a a zip top bag with ice. Place this in the cooler with the turkey and brine and it will hold down the temperature during the brining process.

Rinsing: When you are ready to start cooking your turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly in the sink with cold water until all traces of salt are off the surface inside and out. pat dry with paper towels, and roast as usual. Safely discard the brine.

Brining makes an exceptionally moist and juicy (but not watery) turkey. This is way I have the Perfect Turkey year after year, just follow my steps and you will to.

* Kosher salt is the ONLY type of salt to be used in making brine (it is sweeter and more pure than ordinary table salt).

Tips: After rinsing your turkey, allow the turkey to stand, refrigerated, for 6 hours or overnight. This resting period has the added advantage of evening the degree of brininess throughout the meat (it will be less salty on the surface of the meat, more evenly brined throughout), and resting produces a slightly more tender result.

If salt is a concern (the entire turkey will absorb only 10-15% of the brine)

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