A few years ago, I decided to change up my Thanksgiving dinner a bit. I was watching Let’s Talk Turkey on the Food Network, which happens to be my absolute favorite week of the year, and saw someone (I cannot remember who for the life of me) brine a turkey before they roasted it. My life was changed forever. That is all I can say about it. Life changing. I don’t know about how things are at your house, but at mine, turkey usually is on the back burner. The sides are what people ooh and ahh over. On this particular year, I was carving the turkey in the kitchen and getting everything ready and everyone was standing at the island picking at the turkey. Before I knew it, most of the turkey was gone before I even got it on the table. This turkey was the moistest, juiciest turkey that I have ever eaten. It was so good that this year the star of my Thanksgiving table was the turkey.
For the most part, I make a turkey breast at least once a week. I am not a fan of deli meats. I would much rather make a turkey myself and use the sliced turkey breast for sandwiches. Even though brining is an extra step in the process, I promise you that it is worth the time. A brine is a solution of salt and water that adds moisture and flavor to meats. I like to use a salt and sugar combination with fresh herbs and citrus but there are endless possibilities to flavor and tenderize whatever you are brining. So how much time are we talking about? The general rule is 1 hour per pound, but I like to brine overnight when I can. But a lot of the time I stick it in the brine first thing in the morning then roast it off late in the afternoon. The other rule is 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water. You will know that you have enough salt if a raw egg floats in the water.
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 gallon water
In a large pot or Ziploc bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in a gallon of water. Add the fruits, herbs, and peppercorns.
Whisk the salt and sugar until it is dissolved.
Add the turkey to the brine. Cover the pot. If you use a Ziploc bag, put it in another bowl in case there is some leakage.
Put the pot in the fridge. Let the turkey sit in the brine for 4-24 hours.
Take the turkey out of the brine. Rinse the turkey off and pat dry.
Pour some olive oil over the top. Rub it in.
Season well with salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees. I love to have this turkey or chicken around to use in sandwiches, casseroles, or whatever I feel like eating during the week.
Do you brine? I would love to hear what you use to make your brine solution. Share with the class in the comments sections.