Like many of you, I will be making a turkey this year – and, admittedly, due to my work and family schedule, I am cheating on the brining as Trader Joe’s has free-range, organic, brined birds this year at $3.99 per pound. Normally, I do like to brine my own turkey since a brined bird has the best flavor and yields the juiciest results. If you are reading this today, you can start brining your turkey tomorrow, or even Wednesday – depending upon the size of your bird. Basically, you want to brine it for one hour per pound. But you can’t brine it too much – as long as you rinse it.
For recipes calling for a large container to put the turkey in during the brining process, that always proves difficult. I have found that using heavy duty eco-friendly trash bags in double or triple layers works just fine. And if you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where it is chilly and you have a yard safe from any animals, you can use the great outdoors as your refrigeration.
There are many ways to brine a turkey, but basically, it’s all about immersion in a salty liquid, with some additives for depth of flavor. Here is my favorite and easy way to brine a turkey:
- 2 cups Kosher or sea salt – I use Baleine
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock (low sodium, organic is best)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 1/2 tablespoon candied ginger or 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 gallon ice water
Pour vegetable stock into a large stock pot over a high heat – the sort of pot you would use to boil lobsters or crabs – the biggest one you can find. Add salt, brown sugar, and spices (you can also thrown in some honey or maple syrup if you have it). Bring to a light boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour in ice water and stir to combine.Place turkey in a large plastic container (at least 4 gallon) – or, use my trash bag method. Pour brine over top. Refrigerate and brine for 1 hour per pound.Thoroughly rinse all the brine from the turkey before cooking. Otherwise there will be a salty flavor to the turkey. And always remember to thoroughly dry the turkey before cooking – this is key. Enjoy – and let us know your favorite way to season a turkey. Or Tofurkey!