Thumbs down on dried out turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, once you’ve brined, your turkey will shine! So what the heck is “brining” – an old-fashioned word and a technique that is now being enthusiastically embraced by many. If you’ve wondered what it is and /or been afraid to try it – worry not – it’s easy. A brine is salt water with sugar added to temper some of the harshness, then herbs and spices are added to enhance the flavor.
Modern chefs have adopted the technique relatively recently to correct for the lean pork and poultry being raised commercially. Turkey that is cooked over 150 degrees has all the juices squeezed out as the meat contracts during cooking. Brining will counteract that and give you a juicy, tender and flavorful bird. Really!!
For a 20+ lb Turkey
Here’s what you do, it’s this simple:
To make two gallons of brine:
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 head garlic
fresh thyme, sage or rosemary
Bring 2 cups of water to boil with salt, sugar, herbs and spices. Crush the head of garlic, add 3 or 4 bay leaves, a good branch of thyme, sage or rosemary and a sprinkling of peppercorns. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and then cool. Now add two gallons of cold water less 2 cups.
Remove the neck, giblets and liver from the cavities or the turkey, rinse and put into a large pot or plastic pail that will hold the turkey comfortably and cover with the cooled brine, put a plate on top to keep it submerged and leave refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours depending on the size. It is important that it remain at 40 degrees or less.
Remove from brine, pat dry and roast in the usual way however do not add salt, the bird has already been seasoned.
Rub the skin with a bit of oil and some of the herbs used in the brine. Internal temperature should be 145 when done. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes after removing from the oven before you carve and serve the turkey.
Now enjoy one of the most tender and delicious turkeys you have ever had. This recipe also works well for chicken and pork, soak for shorter periods of time depending on the size of the piece of meat. You can also add brown sugar, apple cider, mustard seeds, cinnamon, and / or cloves. The variations are endless so have fun with this and don’t worry – be happy – and enjoy!