how to brine a turkey

by | Nov 22, 2006 | Daily life, Food & Drink

I was unemployed for four months after we moved to North Carolina, giving me plenty of time to not only get a load of scrapbooking done, but also attempt a lot of new recipes. There would always be a warm meal cooking when Eric got home from work. One of my favorite recipes from this time was an apple cider brined turkey. I first tried it with a small whole chicken, and the results were so good, even though it’s time consuming, I’ve made it several times.

For Thanksgiving this year, we purchased an all-natural fresh turkey breast from Weaver Street Market that should be made extra delicious by the brining process. I have two options…

Cooking Light version
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
Brine:
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
6 cups ice

To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

OR I could go with a different recipe from a TV personality I trust (and, ok, have a tiny crush on)…

Alton Brown version
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
Brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

I’m still deciding…

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