It is that time of year when we must begin thinking about the holidays and that means the feasts that go along with them. Several years back I was introduced to the concept of brining a turkey before cooking it and I was hooked the very first time I did it. Not only does brining the bird add flavor, but it also helps to keep the meet very moist.
The concept of brining is pretty simple. You are essentially soaking the bird in a salt based solution that gets soaked into the meat. This in turn leaves more moisture behind as the bird cooks resulting in more moist meat. One other thing that happens is that flavors that introduced a part of the brine mixture (i.e. herbs and spices) also remain behind, adding additional flavor to the bird.
Creating a brine is a very simple process however, having a place in the refrigerator to hold the turkey overnight to let the brine work its magic will be the most difficult part of the operation. This is one of the reasons that I have a spare refrigerator in my basement that holds on any given day either beer, wine, or foods being prepped for cooking the next day. Quite often all three.
Below is the recipe on how to make the brine and how to handle the turkey for brining. In the coming days I’ll explore a couple of different methods for preparing the bird on the special day.
Brining a Turkey
1 very clean 5 gallon bucket or large heavy duty trash bag
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 gallon ice water
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tbs dried rosemary
1 Tbs dried sage
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs dried savory
1 Tbs garlic powder
Make sure your turkey is thoroughly thawed before brining. This is best done in your refrigerator 3 days prior to brining.
In a large stock pot combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the ice water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. When the brine is cool, pour it into the bucket or trash bag. Stir in the ice water.
Make sure that the innards have been removed from your turkey and then thoroughly rinse and dry the bird. Place the turkey, breast side down, into the brine making sure the bird is covered (add water to cover the bird if it isn’t). Place the bucket or bag in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the turkey, drain off any excess brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.
Cook the turkey by your favorite method.