I’ve shared 2 fabulous Thanksgiving desserts this week: Pecan Rum Tart and Pumpkin Bacon Bars. Now it’s time to talk about the star of the show. Let’s talk turkey. Remember my post about 10 Safety Tips for Preparing Turkey? You might want to reread that. But let’s talk turkey, specifically brining that bird. For years now, I have brined my turkey and I’ve taught classes about brining. And once people taste the difference in a brined turkey, they understand because it really makes a difference. So why?, you ask. I’m going to tell you how to brine your turkey and why you should.
First of all, brining a turkey isn’t hard. It’s an inexpensive way to make your bird extra moist and juicy. Once you’ve done it once or twice knowing how and why you should brine a turkey becomes so easy you won’t need a recipe or even an ingredient list. You’ll be a convert. I promise.
How to Brine Your Turkey and Why You Should
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Let’s start with WHY You Should Brine Your Turkey
Salt changes the structure of the muscle tissues in the meat, allowing it to swell and absorb water and flavorings. It also breaks down the proteins, resulting in a tender-seeming turkey. This means that ~ despite the moisture loss during roasting and the long cooking time ~ the end result is a juicier bird. I always use kosher salt.
Now HOW to Brine Your Turkey
The main logistical problem with brining is that you need a container that’s large enough to submerge your turkey in the brine, but will fit in your refrigerator. Furthermore, from a food safety standpoint, it should be stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator so that any spills won’t contaminate food below. You may use a stock pot, a bucket, or a roasting pan. But most turkeys are too big and who has room in their refrigerator? I discovered years ago that an ice chest (cooler) is ideal. And since it’s colder in the garage than in the kitchen, that’s where we put the cooler overnight.
- Place a large clean new trash bag in the cooler
- Place the turkey in the trash bag
- Add the brining solution (see below), making sure that most of the turkey is submerged in the brining liquid. Secure the bag tightly (Use a strong twist tie.).
- Pack the cooler with ice. I just buy the 10-pound bag at the grocery store.
- Close the cooler and leave overnight, checking occasionally to see if you need to add more ice. Turn the turkey over once or twice.(This depends on how cold it is in your garage; if you live in a warmer climate, bring the cooler inside.)
You get a good night sleep while Tom Turkey is absorbing all that awesome brining liquid and getting all moist and plump.
The Brine for Your Turkey
There are numerous recipes for brining solutions. Scientifically, you only need water and salt. You may add other ingredients to enhance flavor, but they are not necessary. The basic ratio for turkey brine is two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water. Some recipes include sweeteners or acidic ingredients (lemons) to balance the saltiness.
If you want to get fancy, try this recipe. Adjust the ingredient amounts based on the size of turkey you have. .Print
Brine for Turkey
- Yield: 1 gallon
- 1 gallon vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 gallon ice water or as much as needed
- In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth or water, salt, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
Now follow the directions for HOW to Brine Your Turkey above.
Not much effort for an extra juicy, moist turkey on Thanksgiving. Try it and you’ll thank me.
I want to remind you about the NOVEMBER GIVEAWAY.
Links to Products:
This giveaway is valued at $135 retail.
How to Enter the Giveaway?
The contest runs through November 26th at noon. I will announce the winner on Monday, November 27th.
Link Parties I’ve joined this week from November 10 ~ November 16