My brining and roasting turkey recipes get a lot of requests this time of year, so here we go…
Brining is a simple process of soaking a hunk of protein in a flavored salt solution before cooking, resulting in a much more juicy and flavorful final product.
It’s basic high school science: the brine has a greater concentration of salt and water than the molecules of the protein (in this case, a turkey) that is soaking in it. By simple diffusion, the protein molecules suck up the salty water and retain it. When you cook the meat, some of the water evaporates, but the meat still has far more moisture in it than it would have without the brine soaking, and you get a moister, delicious bird.
Some people use giant syringes to inject their turkeys with crazy solutions, but I think that the old way is still the best way when it comes to brining. Get a big pot, fill it with the brine, and soak the bird in it. Done.
Here’s my tried-and-true turkey brining recipe. Once the brining is done, you can cook the turkey whatever way you like best. I use a method where I grill it inside a Weber grill with charcoal. It comes out smokey and absolutely amazing. I’ll have that info in the next blog.
1 gallon of water
3 stalks celery
1 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
1 gallon of ice water
14–15 lb turkey, thawed
Pour the first gallon of water in a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots and celery (no need to peel them) and add them to the water. Add all the other ingredients, except the ice water and turkey.
Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature.
Remove the giblets from the turkey and place the bird in a container just big enough to hold it and 2 gallons of liquid.
Pour the now-cooled brine over the turkey, then pour in the gallon of ice water.
Make sure the turkey doesn’t float up by placing a plate on top. Put the turkey container in the fridge for 5 to 8 hours, flipping the turkey over in the container halfway through.
Drain turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and then cook using your favorite recipe.
Next time: cooking your turkey on a Weber grill in a fraction of the time.