Since it is getting close to Thanksgiving, I thought you might like to try to brine a turkey. This delicious recipe is borrowed from one of my daughter’s favorite cooks and mine, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.
- PREP TIME:
- 10 Minutes
- COOK TIME:
- 15 Minutes
- 18 Servings
- 3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
- 2 gallons Cold Water
- 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
- 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1-1/2 cup Kosher Salt
- 2 cups Brown Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
- 5 whole Bay Leaves
- Peel Of Three Large Oranges
It’s time for Thanksgiving recipes.
I don’t care that it’s not even Halloween yet!
Oh, I know how it goes. Every year around this time, I think I have all this time to post Thanksgiving recipes on this little food blog of mine. I think, “It’s not even Halloween yet. I’ve got all the time in the world!” Then it happens. It’s the same every year. We dress up our children in Iron Man and Richard Nixon costumes, go trick-or-treating in our quaint little town, then by the time they’re on their last piece of candy–which is actually like twenty hours later–it’s suddenly Christmas. And I’m looking around my kitchen and my little food blog like, “Okay…what just happened?”
And then I ask my children if they have any candy left because I’m having a wicked sugar craving.
And they tell me to go bake a pie or something. Smart-alec little varmints.
Anyway, today I’m sharing my step-by-step method for brining a turkey. I brine a turkey every year.
I brine a turkey every year because it’s the right thing to do. Brining involves soaking a turkey in a very salty solution for a certain length of time, long enough for the salt to infiltrate the turkey and actually alter the molecular structure of the meat. It doesn’t turn it into a salty mess, either. It just results in a juicy, fantastic turkey. If you’ve never brined a turkey, you’ll just have to trust me on this.
You can buy ready-made brining solutions. I used to buy one at Williams-Sonoma. But making one is a cinch, too. You basically need a bunch of salt and whatever other ingredients you want to throw in. I like to balance the saltiness with the mild sweetness of apple cider (and okay, the not-so-mild sweetness of brown sugar) but you can use whatever you’d like.
A couple of important things to remember, though:
1. Only brine fresh turkeys. Brining a frozen turkey is never a good idea, because frozen turkeys are most typically injected with a sodium solution. There are some organic frozen turkeys (my friend Julie found some at Whole Foods recently) that have a much lower concentration of the sodium solution. Generally speaking, though, you’ll want to brine fresh–not frozen–turkeys.
2. Making gravy from the drippings of a brined turkey can result in a really salty gravy if you’re not careful. In the next post, I’ll show you a few steps that will prevent this from happening.
Here’s what you need.
Cut off the top and bottom of each orange.
Carefully slice off the peel in sections.
Mmm. Fragrant to the max.
Strip the leaves off the rosemary sprigs, measure the salt, sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Inhale. Exhale. Thank the Lord above for the aromas that spring forth from the earth.
At least that’s what I do every time I make this turkey brine.
(Oh, and you’ll need some minced garlic. I just forgot that step. Happens.)
Pour three cups of apple cider into a stock pot.
Add two gallons of water…
A cup and a half of salt…
Two cups of brown sugar…
And orange peel.
And the forgotten garlic.
Now, bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature; feel free to stick it in the fridge or freezer halfway through the cooling down process
This is an alien hand (left) and a brining bag.
I’m obsessed with brining bags. Obsessed!
It’s all I think about anymore.
Here’s the turkey inside the brining bag.
Once the brine solution is cooled, pour it over the turkey.
Now you’ll just need to seal up the bag and refrigerate it for at least sixteen hours. Twenty-four hours is better, though, especially for a large turkey. Place the turkey, breast side down, in the bag, but 2/3 of the way through the brining, flip the turkey in the bag to make sure it brines evenly. Just pretend you’re an obstetrician and you’re trying to get a breach baby to flip!
Note: This is enough brine for a 20-pound turkey. If you feel as though the turkey needs even more liquid, just top it off with more water and it’ll be fine. If you’re using a much smaller turkey or a turkey breast, just halve the recipe.
Next up: Roasting this dang thing. (Here are the roasting instructions!)
The fun has only just begun.