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How to Brine a Turkey

Help! Should I Brine My Turkey?

Generally, I stick to basting or butter rubs to ensure a moist bird, but many Thanksgiving cooks swear by brining.

The Culinary Institute of America certainly does: they recommend brining as the very best method to ensure bold flavor and moistness. Essentially a brine is a seasoned aromatic liquid in which the turkey bathes before roasting. This technique is often used in preparing all kinds of poultry to maximize juiciness in the finished product. The salt in the brine breaks down the turkey's proteins, making it more tender and keeping in moisture that would normally be squeezed out. Here are a few important brining tips:

  • Plan ahead: turkeys generally should brine anywhere from 12-15 hours.
  • Choose a container large enough to hold the brining liquid and the turkey. You don't want any spillage situations!
  • The basic ratio for a brine is three gallons of water to two ounces of salt.
  • Let the brine cool before adding the turkey, otherwise the bird will begin to cook.
  • Choose aromatics that you like the taste of, like bay leaves, thyme, and parsley.
  • Make sure you have enough space in your refrigerator ahead of time to hold the container. This will save you from a big headache and mess later.
  • Be sure to pat your bird dry before roasting.

Check out a step-by-step brining video to see how it's done. What do you guys think? Is brining the best way to go, or is it more hassle than it's worth? What's your method for a moist, flavorful bird?

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fuzzles fuzzles 5 years
Oooh. Also, if you live in a colder climate, it is often chilly enough this time of year to let the bird hang in the garage, covered, while it is grooving in the brine.
fuzzles fuzzles 5 years
Brining is AWESOME, but with one huge negative. You won't be able to make gravy with the pan drippings due to the amount of salt in the brine.
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