Turkey Brining 101 – Best Brine Recipes
During the holiday season it’s hard walk past a magazine rack without seeing a perfectly glazed turkey on the cover. Turn the page and you’ll find many tips on how to make the perfect side dishes, gravy and desserts. But the turkey should be the star of your holiday table. To make sure you have a juicy and flavorful bird, take the extra time to brine the night before.
WHY BRINING IS DELISH…
Brining combines a solution of salt and sugar to help change the chemistry of the protein that allows the brine solution and moisture to get trapped inside the protein. This is different then injecting the bird. Injecting will add moisture but the liquid will just sit on top of the meat. Brining actually adjusts the protein molecules so the liquid truly gets inside the meat. All the moisture and flavors from the brine solution create a very juicy and tender bird packed with flavor.
WHICH RECIPE TO CHOOSE…
There are so many brine recipes. Make sure the ratio remains constant in the recipe. The basic solution should consist of 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of kosher salt and a gallon of water. From there you can add a variety of herbs and flavorings to suit your menu. You can use dried poultry herbs, garlic cloves or oranges. The flavorings aren’t as critical as the ratio of salt to sugar. That ratio is the scientific formula that allows that extraordinary juicy and tender turkey. You may use other liquids such as apple juice instead of water. And you may use maple syrup as a substitution for some of the sugar.
Just try to keep the ratio of salt to sugar in tact.
FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS…
When brining, make sure to heat the salt and sugar solution so it completely dissolves. Then allow to completely cool. You may use ice cubes to help it cool down. Place your turkey breast-side down in a large white trash bag or in a store-bought brining bag. Then place bag inside of a large stockpot or a cooler. Pour brine solution over bird then tightly close the bag so that air won’t get to the bird. If your bird is not completely submerged then rotate is several times while brining. Make sure to your turkey to “bathe” in the brine solution for at least 1 hour per pound. Plan on 24 hours to experience the best results.
When you’re ready to roast or cook your turkey, remove from the brine and rinse completely under cold water. The meat won’t taste salty unless you forget this step of rinsing after soaking in the brine. If you don’t rinse, then the salts will penetrate the meat while cooking, so it’s important you don’t forget to rinse!
If you follow these steps and brine you’ll be amazed at how juicy and tender your turkey will be – even the breast meat! It’s a simple yet important step to insure that your turkey is truly the star of your Thanksgiving table.
Here are some suggested recipes for brining. If you have a favorite, I’d love it if you shared your recipe or a link in the comments section…
My Favorite Turkey Brine – Simple! – Laura’s Best Recipes
Brine for Smoked Turkey Breast – Laura’s Best Recipes
Chez Panisse Brine Recipe via SFGate
Top 10 Turkey Brine Recipes – BBQ.com
Emeril’s Turkey Brine Recipe – Food Network
Bobby Flay Spanish Spiced Brined Turkey – Food Network
Ultimate Brined – Smoked Turkey Recipe – Amazing Ribs