If you're not on the turkey brining train then you need to be.. it is the single best way to ensure that your turkey ends up juicy, and full of flavor.
A brine is a mixture of salt and water and when you place a piece of meat down in a brine, the meat absorbs some of the salty water over a period of several hours. The salty water gets trapped between the muscle fibers and creates more juice inside.
You always lose some moisture when you cook but now, because you have even more juice trapped within the meat, it ends up being a lot more juicy when it's all said and done. The salt is not excessive but it does create a more flavorful bite.
Here's the cool thing, you can also add other things such as sugar, juice, flavorings, sauces, marinades, etc into the brine and some of that gets absorbed as well.
All of my brines are approximately 6% salinity or 1 cup of coarse kosher salt per 1 gallon of liquid.
Here's some of the brines that I have created and used over the years.
Jeff's Cajun Turkey/Poultry Brine
- 1 Gal Water
- 1 Cups Kosher Salt (Morton's blue box)
- 1.5 Cups brown sugar
- 2 TBS Zatarains Liquid Crab Boil
- 2 TBS Black Pepper
- 1/2 TBS Dried Rosemary
- 1/2 TBS Thyme
- 2 TBS Molasses
- 2 TBS White Wine (not Cooking Wine)
- 2 TBS Worcestershire
Add the salt to the water and stir until the salt dissolves and the water becomes clear. Add the other ingredients and stir well to combine. Double or triple the recipe as required.
Traditional Brine for Turkey/Poultry
Pour the water into a large plastic foodsafe container. Add the salt and stir until it is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and rub and stir until it dissolved as much as possible. Double or triple the recipe as required.
Buttermilk Brine for Turkey/Poultry
Pour the buttermilk and water into a large plastic food-safe container. Add the salt and stir until it is completely dissolved. Then add the rub and stir until it is dissolved as much as possible. Double or triple the recipe as required.
Cranberry Brine for Turkey/Poultry
Pour the juice into a large plastic food-safe container. Add the salt and stir until it is completely dissolved. Then add the rub and stir until it is dissolved as much as possible. Double or triple the recipe as required.
Put the bird into a very large brining bag, a clean empty cooler or a large plastic food-safe bucket and pour the brine over the turkey until it is completely submerged.
Let the turkey brine for 10-12 hours or overnight in the fridge (chickens only need 4 hours) making sure the temperature of the brine is less than 40 degrees to keep the meat safe from spoilage.