Ready set brine.
It’s the most important dinner of the year and you can start by getting the best fresh turkey! But once you get that bird home, what will you do to ensure your turkey turns out the moist and delicious? One great option is brining. It doesn’t take an advanced degree to brine a turkey, but if you have never done it before it can seem daunting. There are lots of recipes and variation, but as a jumping off point, remember that the two primary ingredients in all brines are salt and water.
This particular brine recipe balances both salty and sweet and it will deliver a tasty Thanksgiving centerpiece.
So why would you brine a turkey?
Some people might say, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” Brining is a process of submerging your turkey in an herbaceous salty-sweet solution overnight to obtain the juiciest and most flavorful turkey possible. Since the turkey is submerged in brine, you might think that you will be left with a salty tasting bird, but nothing is further from the truth. You will instead experience one of the most moist and delicious turkeys ever. And, bonus — it’s easy too!
Always start with a fresh, never frozen turkey. Frozen turkeys, like the ones you find at most conventional grocery and discount supermarkets, are typically pumped or injected with a sodium solution. A typical store-bought frozen turkey contains 200 mg of sodium per 4 oz. serving right out of the package.
An important tip is to brine the turkey evenly by either submerging fully or flipping the turkey in the solution during the process. Brine anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, and remember that larger turkeys will require more brining time.
Let’s get started!
- 2 gallons water
- 3 cups apple cider
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt / sea salt
- 3 tablespoons tricolor peppercorns
- 5 whole bay leaves
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped off
- Peel of three large oranges, removed in large strips
- 1 turkey
- In a large stockpot, combine 2 gallons cold water along with all of the ingredients. Bring water to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.
- When the solution starts to boil and all of salt and sugar has dissolved, turn off heat and allow the solution to cool completely.
- Chill the solution before placing the turkey into it, and then submerge turkey in the chilled brine solution.
- Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
Cooking the Turkey
- Give yourself a minimum of an hour to prepare your bird for the oven.
- Discard the brine and thoroughly rinse the turkey inside and out. Some people do not rinse, but if you are at all concerned about too much salt, please rinse and pat dry prior to cooking.
- Cook your turkey according to your normal roasting method, usually 15 minutes per pound in an oven preheated to 325 degrees.