Friday, November 21, 2008

Mr. T says Brine your Turkey

Don't be a fool, brine your turkey! I wrote about brining turkeys a couple years ago in the infancy of this here blog. With just a few more readers now, it's time to revisit the topic. So ladies and gentlemen listen up, if you want a delicious, moist, wow-your-guests turkey, then you MUST MUST MUST brine! The basics: brine is a salt water solution. Wikipedia has this to say about brining:
Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation.
Look, all I know is that brining is the only way to a truly delicious, juicy turkey. I used to use a brine recipe from Wolfgang Puck, but this year I'm going with a recipe adapted from Grill 23 chef Jay Murray here in Boston. My wife J clipped the recipe out of Boston Magazine for me and it looks too good to turn pass up. Here is the recipe, reproduced without permission:
Turkey Brine
Adapted from Grill 23 chef Jay Murray

10 qt. water
2 1/2 c. kosher salt
2 c. maple syrup
20 cloves garlic
3 oranges, halved
5 bay leaves
1/4 c. mixed peppercorns
1/4 c. coriander seeds
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
6 sprigs fresh rosemary

1. In large pot over high heat, combine water, salt, maple syrup, and garlic. Squeeze orange halves to extract juice; add juice and fruit to brine. Add spices and herbs.
2. Boil mixture five minutes. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature, then chill at least two hours before adding turkey.
3. Brine meat in refrigerator for at least eight hours and up to 12.
4. Drain, dry completely, then roast according to recipe of choice

If you're like me and don't have the patience for the cooling and chilling part of the brine process, follow this simple tip I picked up from my good friend at the Food Network, Alton Brown. He shared this amazing tip with me a few months ago: make the brine with half the water called for and once the salt is dissolved, take the brine off the heat and add the remaining water as ice . Five pounds of ice will melt into 4 quarts of water, also known as one gallon of water. The ice will instantly cool the solution. Now give that turkey a bath and have a happy Thanksgiving!

I pity the fool who doesn't brine their turkey!


  1. My mom brined our turkey for Thanksgiving last week & it was so good! Hope you had a nice holiday.

  2. Hi Jennifer, brined turkeys are the only way to do Thanksgiving. Holiday was great, thanks, I hope the same can be said for you.

  3. I was intimidated by the idea of brining until I made homemade corned beef last St. Patrick's Day. It was easy! And super yummy. I haven't tried it with a turkey yet...

  4. Hi Nicole, brining can be quite easy indeed. Sometimes the hardest part is finding something to soak the bird, or beast in!