Avoid Dry Turkey with a Little Planning and This Homemade Brine Recipe
Nothing ruins a Thanksgiving meal more than dry turkey. Well, bringing up politics or religion at the table may top that, but that's another blog for another time. For now, let's focus on making that bird the star of the table its meant to be.
If it's a juicy turkey packed with flavor you're looking for (I can't imagine why you wouldn't), letting it soak in a brine ahead of baking it will do just that. But, it does take a little extra work and time. Both of which will be totally worth it, I promise.
You could add a brining liquid to your shopping list when you hit up the grocery store to get everything you need for your meal, but as with most pre-packaged things at the store, most of those are loaded with preservatives to help extend the shelf life. Me? I prefer to go the DIY route for a couple of reasons; 1) I know what I'm putting in the brine and ultimately my body, and 2) there's something satisfying about not taking any shortcuts with the process.
Here's a brine recipe I like to use on various cuts of chicken and pork courtesy of Kitchen Konfidence that works really well for turkey too.
- 15 oz. water
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz.) kosher salt
- 1 small brown or white onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, whole but peeled
- 4 sprigs thyme (you could also use rosemary or sage)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, roughly cracked
- 1 lemon, halved
- 18 ice cubes (15 oz.)
- 1 whole turkey, turkey breast, or turkey roast
In a medium saucepan, combine water, salt, onion, garlic, thyme, bay, peppercorns and lemon. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt has dissolved. Take mixture off of the heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Add ice to a large bowl. Pour over hot brine and stir until the ice has melted.
Place turkey into a large, food safe container (like the one found below on Amazon). Pour in the brine and seal tightly. Let sit for 3 hours at room temperature.
Rinse your turkey under cold, running water, pat dry then set aside. Discard brine. Let the meat rest for 1 hour before cooking or transfer to the refrigerator to use later.
After it's rested, cook it however you planned on going about it. Bake it, deep fry it, smoke it, whatever. If you do choose to bake it, try using the method my Mom uses to add even more flavor and juiciness.
Something to keep in mind — this recipe is for chicken pieces, pork chops, roasts, etc. You may need to double or even triple the recipe in order to have enough to submerge an entire turkey.