Brining is a simple process of soaking a hunk of protein in a flavored salt solution for a period of time before cooking, resulting in a much more juicy and flavorful final product.
It’s basic high school science: the brine has a greater concentration of salt and water than the protein molecules of the protein (in this case, a turkey) that is soaking in it. By simple diffusion, the protein molecules suck up the salty water and retain it. When you cook the meat, some of the water evaporates, but the meat still contains far more moisture in it than it would have without the brine soaking, and the end result is a moister, simply delicious bird.
Some people use giant syringes to inject their turkeys with crazy solutions, but I think that the old simple way is still the best way when it comes to brining. Get a big pot, fill it with the brine, and soak the bird in it. Done.
Here’s my tried-and-true turkey brining recipe. Once the brining is done, you can cook the turkey whatever way you like best. I use a method where I grill it inside a Weber grill with charcoal. It comes out smokey and absolutely amazing. I’ll have that info in the next blog.
1 gallon of water
3 stalks celery
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
1 gallon of ice water
14–15 lb turkey, thawed
Pour first gallon of water in a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots and celery (no need to peel them) and add to the water. Add all the other ingredients, except ice water and turkey.
Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let brine cool down to room temperature.
Remove giblets from turkey and place in a container just big enough to hold it and 2 gallons of liquid.
Pour the now-cooled brine over the turkey, then pour in the gallon of ice water.
Make sure the turkey doesn’t float up by placing a plate on top. Put turkey container in fridge for 5 to 8 hours, flipping the turkey over in the container halfway through.
Drain turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and then cook using your favorite recipe. I’ll post my favorite method next time.