For years, we have been brining turkeys with great success, and you can too!
Most people think that when you brine a turkey or chicken, that the end result will be an overly salty beast. So. Not. True. The opposite is true: when you brine poultry, the end result is tender moist deliciousness that most people would love to replicate.
I’m gonna show you how!
My one caveat is to never ever use brining bags when brining turkeys. You’ll see why at the end of the post. EEP!
GET REEEEEEADY TO BRINE!
(in case this looks familiar, part of this post first appeared in an OMT post dated: December 13, 2013)
TURKEY BRINING 101
The Internets is full of the info. Ratio of salt to water varies wildly depending on your source. I’ll tell you how we did it and leave you to do some research on your own to determine what will work for your tastes.
* We use a ratio of 1 gallon of water to 1/2-1 cup of kosher salt. (salt makes the meat juicy by allowing the muscles to take in and retain water)
* We use a ratio of 1 gallon of water to 1/2-1 cup of sugar. (sugar acts as a browning agent)
* Herbs and other ingredient added to taste. (herbs and other spices act as the yum factor)
~ A gentle reminder: OMT! uses Amazon referral links. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, you support the blog at no cost to yourself. It’s much appreciated!~
* A cube cooler to immerse the turkey.
That’s it. Nope, not kidding. Seriously…that’s it!
Step-by-step for two 12-13 pound turkeys. (use half the amounts for one bird):
1) Thaw the turkey and remove bagged giblets.
2) Give the turkey a good rinse.
3) Pour 4 gallons of water into cooler (MAKE SURE COOLER STOPPER IS IN POSITION TO PREVENT DRAINING!).
4) Add 2 cups of salt. Stir well.
5) Add two cups of sugar. Stir Well.
6) Add 1/2-1 cup uncrushed peppercorns and any other seasonings you want to try.
7) Submerge turkeys. Make sure they are fully covered by the brine:
8) Add enough ice to cover turkeys:
9) Securely close lid on cooler and leave for 24 hours. The ice will keep everything safe and cool.
10) Take out turkeys. Rinse thoroughly, especially the inside cavity. Smoke. Cook. Grill. Whatever rocks your socks.
When we’re preparing a brined turkey to share with others, we tend to use a very basic recipe like the one above. When we brine for ourselves, we get more creative. We’ve used lemons and herbs and anything that speaks to us from our spice pantry. You can also add other liquids like white wine or hot sauces. CALIENTE!
You really can’t go wrong. Especially if you stick with the general ratios.
Turkey Brining Bonus Tips:
~ I know the cooler idea may seem odd to many, but over the years we have discovered that this method works best. If you use a flimsy brining bag, prepare to clean up spills.
Remember my one caveat earlier about NOT using a brining bag for a turkey? One year we literally had 2-4 gallons that broke free from the bag, causing a mighty river to flow through our garage, down the driveway and into the street. Sure, now we can laugh… Trust me, a cooler works best. You just need to remember to clean it thoroughly after using it to brine raw poultry. You don’t want to invite Sal Mo Nella to your next event.
~ Use Kosher salt. There is a significant weight difference between table salt and Kosher salt and the two are not interchangeable here. When you see the brine measurements of salt versus water, you can safely assume kosher salt is used.
~ Do not be afraid of the amount of salt in the brine. In order to transfer the magic brine into the turkey, you need these amounts, otherwise your turkey is just bathing in salt water and that’s totally weird.
~ Humbly accept the praise heaped upon your head after all partake of your masterpiece.
Did I tell you or what? This is truly the easy way to brine a turkey.
Now get to brining, mah babies!