Is it just me, or did brining not become a “thing” until a few years ago? As far as I can remember, turkey rubs were fairly basic, you may or may not stuff the cavity and then in went the bird to soak up all it’s own juices. Nothing fancy. Growing up with even had this giant turkey roaster to provide more space in the kitchen oven on turkey day. Here is how to brine a turkey.
Well, things have changed and so have turkey fads. Now days you are expecting to spice, rub, inject and brine before you slow roast, spatchcock or fry your bird. I am no exception to the rule and have fallen victim to experimenting with the next great thing. Mainly for one reason: I don’t really care for turkey. *GASP* I know, I know. However, I am adventurous and determined to find a turkey preparation that I DO enjoy.
One of my reasons for not like the gobble gobble is that it all too frequently ends up dry. Solution: brining your turkey. I set out to find a fabulous brine, which I actually tested on chicken. Do you know how challenging it is to find whole turkey at the grocery store at any time during the year except Thanksgiving?
Here it is, I am teaching YOU how to brine a turkey. This is my most flavorful version after trial and error. From there you can add your favorite rub or injection and fry or roast your bird. Make sure to scroll down for side dishes and dessert to accompany your beautifully brined turkey! And after you are all finished, save the bones to make Turkey Stock and Turkey Noodle Soup, the quickest and tastiest way to use up leftovers!
You can buy a brining bag or use a large stock pot. The key is to make sure you cover the entire bird with liquid. If you do choose to roast your bird, rub it down with a compound butter or rub, choose to stuff it or not, and then roast it in a roasting pan using the directions below. Place liquid in the pan to steam the bird, chicken broth works well. Baste throughout cooking using this liquid mixed with the drippings. Cook breast side up and make sure to set it out at room temperture for at least 30 minutes to an hour before putting in the oven. If the breasts get too dark, shield them with aluminum foil. Check with a thermometer to make sure it reaches an internal temperture of 175 degrees. Then remove and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Also check out my Orange Thyme Turkey!
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- 16 cups water
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon ground thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 garlic cloves lightly smashed
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup table salt
- 4 cups Ice
Remove plastic wrap, gizzard and neck. Rinse well with cold water. Place into brining bag placed in a large baking dish (so if there is any spillage it will not ruin other items in the refrigerator).
Bring 16 cups of water to a rapid boil in a large stock pot. Whisk in paprika through salt. Continue to boil for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly (approximately 10-15 minutes) then add 4 cups of ice.
When brine has reached room temperature carefully pour into brining bag with turkey (this is a two person job). Tightly pull bag up around the turkey, forcing the brine to fully encase the bird. Twist the top around a few times and then tie tightly with twine. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours. If the brine will not completely embrace the turkey you can rig it with other items. I used a small cup, shot glass and cheese grater to make sure the brine fully encompassed the turkey.
Remove from brine and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and then prepare your turkey.