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Turkey brining

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I've never brined a turkey before. I think I want to try it this year. From what I've seen, the standard brine is 1 cup of salt per gallon of water, but the recipes I've seen have many different varieties of other things they put in.

What are your brining tips and tricks? Oh, and my turkey is about 22 pounds.

Valentines Mommy:
I posted a brine recipe back in 2009 in the recipe folder. It is one of my favorites.

I always liked the resulting bird. I found them very juicy. I do caution against using a Butterball or standard supermarket turkey. Most of them have been injected with broth or salt solutions, which would make for a very salty turkey.

You have a big bird. I would invest in some very large brining bags. I get mine at Williams and Somoma but I have seen some very large Ziplocs that could work. The bird and the brine should take up half the bag.

Get a large ice chest if fridge space is a premium. Full the bottom with ice. Prepare your brine and bird. Close the bag tightly, squeezing all the air out. Put the brine bag on to of the ice and cover with more ice. Turn the brine bag every so often and replenish ice as needed. A bird that size can brine as long as 48 hours. Rinse the bird well when you remove it from the brine and season as you desire.

When going to cook the bird, dry the skin very well or else it won't crisp well. I don't recommend stuffing a brined bird as the juices and salt will get into it and make the stuffing very salty.


This is Alton Brown's method which is what I use, minus the cinnamon stick in the aromatics. For some reason I can't stand the smell of cinnamon cooking with savory foods.

I've gotten a nice moist turkey out it every year.

Oh and Pod the previous poster, keep the stuffing out of the bird. I bake it in a separate pan and baste it with turkey drippings while it's cooking.

I use the AB brine found above as well.  You can leave out any (or all) of the aromatics and it will still be a pretty good brine.  I make the brine about a week ahead of time, so it has plenty of time to cool off before I have to use it.

For a 22 pound bird, I would brine 24-48 hours.

In order to ensure nice, crispy skin, I pull the bird from the brine right before bed the night before I am going to cook it.  I give it a quick rinse (inside and out) and pat it dry.  Then I put it on a cooling rack on a sheet pan and stick it in the fridge overnight to really let the skin dry out.  Air drying the skin overnight seems to really help prevent soggy skin.

I third the suggestion of AB recipe.  I switch out candied ginger for fresh and add red pepper flakes in as well.  I use a 5 gallon bucket and weigh the turkey down with a few bricks.  We have an enclosed patio so it goes outside at night and come in during the day to keep it cold.

For baking I put all of my aromatics in a cheesecloth bag.  I add thyme, bay leaves, marjoram, basil, carrots, celery, and chopped garlic to the aromatic recipe.  I also use clarified butter instead of canola oil. If you have a store near you that sells indian food, I use gheet.


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