Brining a turkey was a strange concept tome until about 3 years ago, when one of my co-workers, who would later become one of my best friend’s, introduced it to me. She is from the South and brining is apparently pretty typical around here, where a so the West Coast, not so much. She promised me that I hadn’t lived until I had eaten a turkey that had been brined, she was indeed correct! I now brine my turkeys every year and have even done a pork chop in a brine with great results. You must, must, must try a brine the next time you’re going to cook a turkey! This particular brine is from The Pioneer Woman, it’s the first brine and only one for that matter that I’ve ever tried. I’m very happy with it, and know you will be too!
– 3 cups apple cider or apple juice
– 2 gallons (32 cups) cold water
– 4 tbsp. Fresh rosemary leaves
– 5 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 – 1 1/2 cups salt
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 3 tbsp. whole peppercorns
– 5 whole bay leaves
– peel of three large oranges
– brining bag
– butter, about a half stick
– poultry seasoning
This concoction is enough for a 20 pound turkey, you can halve it for a smaller bird, if needed.
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Allow to cool completely. Now, I would recommend making your brine about a day before you need it. I had forgotten how long it takes for this amount of liquid to boil, let alone cool down completely. I tried to make mine the day before I was going to cook the turkey, and i don’t feel like I had enough time for it to really reach it maximum potential. Next year, I’m going to do the brine about 2 days in advance, so it has adequate time to cool down and I’m not trying to rush it. (See pictures below) 😉
When your brine is ready, you’ll want to prepare your turkey. Start by rinsing off your turkey, remove the neck and the giblets packet. I know some people boil the neck to make soup and use the giblets for things, but I never do and they always just go in the trash. Rinse out the cavity and pat your bird dry.
Now, place your turkey in the brining bag, and pour the cooled brine into the bag with the turkey. The brine should be at least halfway up the bird. Place your brine and turkey in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 16-24 hours. 16 hours is alright, but 24 is better. I also usually flip my turkey about halfway through the brining time so the whole thing gets a chance to soak up some of that delicious liquid!
About a half hour before you want to get your turkey in, preheat oven to 325F and rinse off your turkey. Don’t worry, you’re not washing away the brine, just giving him a good rinse so the skin isn’t too salty. Remove from the sink and pat completely dry with paper towels. (Always remember to sanitize your sink before and after having the turkey in, as not to spread germs). Rub your turkey down with butter and then sprinkle him with poultry seasoning. Cover with foil and roast according to your directions on the turkey packaging. During the last hour of roasting, I remove the foil and let it roast uncovered. This will give the turkey some nice color and look a lot more appealing than a pale bird! 😉
Once your turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165F you can remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Then, find a handy person who knows how to carve a turkey (that which I am not) and carve away that scrumptious bird! Your guests will swoon over your soft, moist turkey, and beg your for your method I promise!
This is what happens when you forget how long it takes for that much liquid to cool… It ends up outside!
This is after the turkey has been removed from the brine, and is getting a lathering of butter!
Notice how he still looks a bit pale, I stuck him in for about 40 minutes more to get some color.
Well hello Mr. Handsome! Much better!