For a long time, I wasn’t completely sure what brining involved – or why it made a difference. It took only ONE well-soaked bird to convince us, however, that it was worth the little extra time and effort. We have made multiple turkeys since then, each one incredibly moist and delicious, thanks to the brining process (and we even brine whole chickens now!)
I shared this recipe last year and some of you may have tried it. LaTasha asked me to post the recipe again. She didn’t even LIKE turkey until she made it this way last year and she was amazed at how delicious it was (now THAT says something)!
What is a brine?
Basically, it’s a salt-water soak for meat. It usually includes sugar as well. Other spices can be added.
What does brining do?
From Wisegeek: When used as a marinade, brine serves several functions. The first is as a tenderizer, because the brine begins to break down the cellular structure of meats. It also infuses the meat with water, since the high salinity forces the brine into the cells of the meat. When the brine pushes into the meat, it also brings the spices in the mixture along with it, concentrating the marinade inside the meat. As the brined meat cooks, it stays moist and tender, and develops more flavor.
Out-of-this-World-Turkey-Brine from Allrecipes
2 gallons cold water
1 1/2 cups Kosher or canning salt (or 1 cup table salt)
3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
In a large bucket or container large enough to hold your turkey (yet small enough to fit in your refrigerator!), combine all of the brine ingredients listed above. Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar into the water. Store in a refrigerator, and soak turkey for 2 days before smoking or roasting.
Some (Possibly) Helpful Notes:
- If your bird is VERY large, you may need to double the brine recipe to cover the turkey. We use a large stock pot or canning pot to soak in.
- We thaw the turkey most of the way first, then use the brine for the last 48 hours as recommended. It finishes the thawing process and adds incredible flavor! For a 14 pound turkey, we’ll thaw for 3 days, then brine for 2 more.
- We like Reynold’s Oven Bags (turkey size) for easy baking. You can usually find these free after coupon during the holiday season! You could also smoke, grill or roast your turkey – it really doesn’t matter!
- No matter how much I manage to overcook the turkey, it’s ALWAYS moist and delicious!
- To avoid stress, we often cook and carve our turkey the night before Thanksgiving. We keep it refrigerated in a casserole dish with a little broth, then reheat in the oven for the Thanksgiving meal.
Do YOU have any great Thanksgiving hints, tips or recipes? Have you ever tried brining? Please share!
Check out more of my Thrifty Thanksgiving Recipes.