It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I finally understood why my Mom would soak her chicken and turkey in salt water. It was one of those “AHA” moments for me. She never explained why and I didn’t ask - not a smart decision. I read about brining in a cookbook and let me just say, it changed my way of thinking.
Brining your turkey is one of the best ways to ensure the turkey is flavorful and moist. No one wants to eat dry turkey on Thanksgiving or any other day. You might think if you baste the turkey constantly it will be flavorful and moist but it just can’t do the same and every time you open the oven, the cooking time is increased. Bad idea.
The basic brine includes the first four ingredients listed below and it would be perfect for brining a turkey. The optional ingredients just add more flavor to the meat. You can change the flavors you add. Sometimes I add apple cider, sprigs of thyme, onions and an apple. Using rosemary, oranges and some orange juice is another option.
This will give you a moist and flavorful turkey that you will be proud to serve your guest. Allow the turkey to set in the brine at least overnight. I usually give it 24 hours.
- 3 quarts water
- 1 1/4 cups kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 oranges
- 2 large sprigs rosemary
- 3 large sprigs thyme
- ice water
Place the water, salt, brown sugar and peppercorns in a large pot. Turn the burner to medium high heat.
Remove the rind from the orange and add to the pot. Also add the cut up the oranges. Add the rosemary and thyme.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, stir it to ensure the salt and sugar have been completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely.
Add the turkey to a brining bag (Photo A) and carefully pour in the brine. Add enough ice water to completely cover the turkey. (Photo B) Seal the brining bag. (Photo C) Place in the refrigerator overnight but it is better if given 24 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse off all the salt and brine. Pat dry and it is ready for roasting.