Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Foodie - Turkey Brine

So I have two Friday Foodies before Thanksgiving and that’s not nearly enough time to share with you all my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. There’s my favorite Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, the dressing with dried cranberries, the buttery baked sweet potatoes with lightly browned marshmallows, of course, the green beans with toasted pecans, and then there’s the turkey. So since I can’t fit all that in in two weeks, I’ll give you two recipes that you may not have, the first being the secret to the juiciest, most flavorful turkey you’ve ever had: brine.

This is so easy and it makes a huge difference in the flavor the turkey. You can make it a couple of days before and have it ready, or even make it way ahead of time like I did and freeze it, and then thaw it out a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

Oh, I wish you could smell that. 

Turkey Brine

1 gallon water
3 tablespoons ground cloves
3 tablespoons ground ginger
7 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
12 bay leaves
1 pound kosher salt
12 ounces honey
12 ounces maple syrup

1. In a large stockpot, bring the water, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir in the honey and maple syrup until well blended. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. At this point you can freeze it, refrigerate it for a couple of days, or use it immediately.

3. Rinse off your turkey, inside and out, with cold water. (Don’t forget to remove those giblets.) Get a container that is large enough to fit your turkey and place it inside, and pour the cooled brine over it. If you need to, add water until the turkey is covered. You might need to place something on top as a weight, like a bowl, to keep the turkey immersed. We’ve used a bucket as the container before, but it has to be able to fit inside your fridge. Now what we do is use a cooler, fill it with super cold water, put the turkey in, and cover it with ice. That way we don’t have to use precious refrigerator space.

4. Marinate for 4 hours to overnight. Remove the turkey and rinse it very thoroughly, inside and out, and roast as usual.

If you’d rather skip the spices, honey and syrup, but still want to soak the turkey in a brine, you can simply cover the turkey with water and pour 2 cups of kosher salt or 1 ½ cups table salt over the turkey, rubbing the salt into the bird, leave to marinate, and rinse the turkey thoroughly before roasting.  You will love it. 

Let me know how it goes!


  1. Thanks for the tips, Dorci!

    (can you brine chicken McNuggets?)

  2. Might make 'em just a tad soggy. ;) Thanks, Steve.


Thanks for sharing!