Okay, let’s talk turkey.
What the heck is turkey brine anyhow? Well, let me fill you in. It’s something that is going to make you the ultimate Thanksgiving hero. That’s right, I said hero (or heroine, if you have lady bits.)
Basically, brine is what you find in your normal run of the mill Butterball (or similar) brand of frozen turkey. It’s a salt water solution injected into the bird when it is processed and before it is frozen. It is what makes the turkey so mouth-wateringly tender and juicy. So, when you make your own brine, you will want to find a fresh turkey without the brine injected into it already. You can ask for help at the meat department of your local grocer if you can’t find one. If you truly can’t find a brine-injected free bird, you can still make your own brine, with a little less salt in it and soak it for a little less time.
So, the question is why would you want to make a brine if you can buy a turkey with the brine already injected? Drum roll please … because you can make a much, much, much muuuuuuch better brine. Plus, when you buy a turkey that is already injected with brine, that solution is added to the weight of the turkey. What the, what the? Why would you want to pay for salt water?
So here it goes. Trust me, you got this.
American Hoes ultimate Thanksgiving hero brine recipe:
Per each 2 gallons of water used….
2 cups kosher salt (<— fundamental ingredient alert)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcester sauce
2 Tbsp peppercorns OR 1 Tbsp black pepper
3 tsp allspice
1 sliced onion (you don’t even need to peel it, just slice it up)
3 tsp sage
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp savory
1 tsp tarragon
3 Bay leaves or 2 Tbsp of Old Bay seasoning
2 Tbsp garlic power OR 3 cloves of minced garlic
Optional: 1 orange peel, cut up, 2 cups of apple cider, maple syrup or honey,1 cup of dry cooking wine /// Really, you can add anything else you want or adjust the ingredients to your own taste. Just remember KOSHER salt is king.
For me, in the North-East of the US, I am uber lucky, because most years it is cold enough outside to just keep the turkey in the container (covered with a lid of course) for the duration of the soak. I use a food grade beer bucket to soak mine. You can soak the turkey up to a week if you keep it in refrigerated temperatures. Remember, the wider the container, the more brine you will need to completely cover your turkey.
Now it is all over but the waiting. Soak up to a week for a bird not injected with a solution, 2-3 days for one with. On turkey day, take turkey out of brine and cook in the oven as you normally would. This will have a lot more liquid in it than a bird from the store. I would highly recommend you do NOT use a turkey deep fryer.
And remember, you are a hero. Yes, you.