If you have not been bringing your turkey, then you are really missing out on some juicy goodness! I have had far too many dry turkeys and even started to dislike turkey because of this. I decided to brine and cook a turkey this year and I am SO glad that I did! I love marinating all my meats, so why not my turkey?! If the concept seems daunting, fear not because it is actually quite easy! Brining is quite important because as with any meat, cooking denatures the proteins, causing it to become drier. With especially lean meat such as turkey, that requires such long cook times, that leaves room for a lot more drying out. With brining however, you are soaking the meat in a salt solution which causes the turkey meat to essentially absorb a lot more liquid so that when it cooks, it is losing much less moisture lending itself to a juicy, tender, and tasty bite! Read more about the science behind brining and how it works here.
So how do you prepare a delicious brine? Here is how it happens step by step. I made a citrusy rosemary brine, which smelled incredible. In my trial, I was using a huge 20 lb turkey so I did need some help from my husband at one point to hold the brining bag open and then to carry it into the fridge. I’m a little weak. Nonetheless, the big bird still fit on one single shelf in my regular sized refrigerator. Beware of using a frozen, Kosher, or pre-marinated turkey as these will likely already be prepared in a brined solution so the meat has already been “broken down” and possibly already quite salty! I used a fresh turkey that was slaughtered the day I bought it; you cannot get fresher than that! (Visit taaza2u.com for fresh, halal meats delivered to your door!)
You will need:
1-2 gallons of water (16 cups in a gallon)
brining bag (found near the meat section of your grocer, or try Reynolds oven bags) be careful about using trash bags or other plastics that are not BPA free or food grade plastic!
kosher salt (its larger crystals dissolve faster than table salt)
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First you need to wash the turkey in cold water and remove the giblets.
Next you will boil about 8 cups of water with 2 cups of salt and 2 cups of sugar, along with the herbs and spices. I used peppercorns, orange rinds, sliced lemons, sliced onions, salt, rosemary and thyme. Once the salt is dissolved, add about 10 more cups of cold water, and a few of cups of ice to cool the mixture.
Place the turkey in the bringing bag and pour the solution all over it. Seal it tightly, removing any extra air, and place the bag in a large aluminum tray. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, turning the turkey over after about 12 hours to ensure the breast is well covered too.
The next day, before roasting, wash the turkey well and pat dry. Now it is ready for you to season and roast! Happy brining!
- one fresh (not frozen) turkey
- 1-2 gallons of water
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 tbsp cardamom (ground or whole)
- the rind of 2 oranges
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 2 onions, sliced
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- brining bag
- Remove giblets and any excess skin. Wash the turkey well and pat dry.
- Boil 8 cups of water and dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Add the lemon, orange, onion, peppercorns, cardamom, and fresh rosemary and thyme. Stir.
- Once the salt is dissolved, remove the pot from heat and add about 12 more cups of cold water and ice.
- Place the turkey in a brining bag and pour the brine solution all over.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the turkey over half way through.
- The next day, before roasting, remove the turkey and wash well to remove excess salt.