Turkey Brining instructions from Terrie
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|Tue, 11-18-2003 - 8:09am|
Turkey Brining instructions
I've tried to think of everything I can include to help you all in brining your turkeys. Please let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions. It really is SO easy and SO worth it!
Here is how simple brining can be:
1 cup KOSHER salt
1 gallon water
Yep, that’s it! That is the most basic brining solution, and the proportions of Kosher salt to water won’t vary much between recipes you find. Here are a few more basic tips:
Don’t use table salt! Buy some Kosher salt if you don’t already use it (I recommend Diamond Crystal brand because it has fewer additives, but Morton’s is fine). Table is 2-3 times saltier by measure, so if you replaced table salt in the recipe, your solution would be 2-3 times saltier than it should be - DON'T! LOL!!
I always add a bit of some form of sugar. It’s never enough to make the meat sweet, but I’ve found an incredible improvement in flavor when sugar (I usually use brown sugar) is added. Consider ¼ cup brown sugar or ½ cup white sugar or honey per gallon of water as a guideline.
This is my tip when adding other ingredients to the brining solution (herbs, spices, etc.) – place the additional flavorings in a saucepan and cover with 2 or 3 cups of cold water. Slowly bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. This brings more flavor from the seasonings. Once it is completely cool, add it to the basic brining solution.
Place your meat in a container large enough to hold it and allowing enough room to hold the brining solution to cover the meat completely. To measure the amount of water you will need, make a “dry-run” by placing your meat in the pot, covering with water, the measuring the amount of water you needed. Make your brining solution based on the amount of water needed using the 1 cup of Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water ratio of the basic brining solution.
Specifically for brining a turkey:
First thing to consider is that you have to find a container big enough to hold your turkey submerged in the brine. Second thing to consider is that the whole thing has to be kept cold! For example, I have at 20 qt. stockpot that is the perfect size to hold a really big turkey, but it won’t fit in the fridge! If you have a big pot and adjustable refrigerator shelving – you are set. If not:
Consider using a cooler. A cooler that holds the turkey snugly is best so you have to use less brining liquid to fill up the space. Of course, it needs to have been well cleaned. I’ll tell you how I do it – I wash out a new white “Hefty” trash bag and use it as a liner (but I’ve read that they aren’t supposed to be for food use and you really shouldn’t – yadda yadda…).
Then you have to ensure that you are keeping the whole thing quite cold. If you are using a cooler, buy an 8 lb. bag of ice and place about 1/3 of the ice under the liner bag and the rest over top of the sealed bag inside the cooler. Depending on the temperature where you live, this should be fine for a 24 hour brining period (inside the house if it's still warm outside or outside in the shade in cool weather). Don’t add the ice directly to your brining solution because it will melt and dilute the solution’s salt ratio. You can also put it into ziptop baggies if you need to float it inside the brining solution for whatever reason.
When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove from the brine and rinse lightly. Pat dry with a wad of paper towels and allow to sit on a roasting rack for about 45 minutes to allow the skin to dry out. This helps make a crispier skin. Proceed with your favorite turkey recipe!
Here is one of the most popular brining solutions around, from Alice Waters. We love this one for poultry so I suggest it for anyone who is doing their first Thanksgiving brining!
Chez Panisse brining solution
The recipe makes enough brine for a large turkey. If brining only one chicken or a pork roast, cut the recipe in half.
2 1/2 gallons cold water
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar (Terrie’s note – I use ½ cup brown sugar)
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme or 4 tablespoons dried
1 whole head of garlic, peeled (Terrie’s note – I just slice
the head in half horizontally and don’t bother to peel)
5 whole allspice berries, crushed (Terrie’s note – I use 1 tsp. ground
if I don’t have the whole berries)
4 juniper berries, crushed (Terrie’s note – I can’t imagine that the
flavor would be horribly altered if you didn’t have juniper berries,
but it’s a nice flavor. Suggest adding maybe ¼ cup gin to replace the
flavor, if you want).
Place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in the brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine