Hello, and Good Morning Friends!
This morning, I am up nice and early and I’m rearing and ready to go! I made my husband breakfast and coffee and helped him get out the door almost on time, and I put dishes away from last night and organized/straightened up the kitchen. I am in full Turkey Day mode and I have a lot to do for tomorrow! First thing’s first: to brine the turkey.
“What is a brine?” You may be asking. Well, simply put, it’s a bath of sorts for the turkey to soak in, consisting of a whole lot of kosher salt, herbs and spices, as well as anything else you might want to toss in, like lemons, onions, and garlic, and water/stock.
If you haven’t brined your Thanksgiving turkey, it’s a life changer. I’m so serious. You need to give it a try! Up until I began brining my turkey every year, our bird would usually come out sub-par, dryer than any of us would like, and pretty flavorless. I grew up seeing my parents sprinkle the turkey with some salt and pepper and rub it with butter, and call it a day. It always tasted so good to me – but I was a child, so what did I know? Now that I’m grown and I’ve learned the secret to a great turkey, I can’t turn back. I have my own brine recipe that I am going to share with all of you – and I hope you will use it because it will seriously change the game!
Now, normally I like to brine my turkey for 2 or 3 days before Thanksgiving, but being that this year we didn’t have as much time with our bird (we could only find frozen up until yesterday), a 24 hour brine is going to have to do – and that’s fine by me, because it will absorb just enough flavor. If I recall correctly, last year I only brined our bird for a little over 24 hours and it came out amazing, so as long as I use some pungent and flavorful fresh herbs, which I intend on, such as Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage, all should turn out as perfect as can be. The great thing about brine is how versatile it is, and how much flavor it can infuse into a meat. Also, the ingredients are extremely customizable. What you see in my recipe can be modified however you like to meet your tastes!
If you’ve never brined, you still have time! So I want to quickly share my brine recipe with you in hopes that you will do yourself and your family a favor, and give this a go before tomorrow! You can thank me later.
Sarah’s Savory Turkey Brine Recipe
Ingredients – Remember, these may be altered to your liking! This is just a guideline of what I put in mine.
Fresh sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage – branches removed
2 Lemons – quartered or cut into slices
Fresh cracked black pepper
Rind from 1 Orange
Whole garlic cloves – 8 to 10 (I like to peel and crush them a little bit, and leave some whole)
Chicken stock (I would use 1 carton chicken stock, 1 carton chicken broth – unless you can find turkey stock, which isn’t always easy)
2 Quarts of Water
Kosher salt – 1 cup (it sounds like a lot, and it is, but don’t worry! It won’t all absorb into the turkey!)
1/2 cup brown sugar (to balance the citrus and spice and add a nice flavor – also helps the turkey cook up golden brown!)
Turkey roasting bag (Reynold’s Wrap sells some great ones – you aren’t going to cook your turkey in one, just marinate it)
1 13-15 lb turkey – if you need larger, just double up the recipe *Important note: do not use a turkey which has been previously salted or basted, as this will result in a very salty, unpalatable turkey
- Dissolve 1 cup of kosher salt in 2 quarts of boiled water. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Once cooled, Add in rosemary, thyme, and sage. Add chicken stock/broth. Add cracked pepper. Next, add in orange rinds and lemons. Add your garlic. Stir in the brown sugar. Pour into a pitcher.
- Rinse your turkey and remove giblets/bag from the inner portion of the turkey. Place your turkey into a turkey roasting bag and pour the brine over the turkey, fully submerging it. If part of your turkey sticks out of the top of the brine, that’s okay – you will just need to flip the bird a few times while brining. Also, placing th bag into your roasting pan with the turkey inside before adding the brine will make it much easier to transport back into the fridge to sit. Trust me,it gets heavy. Secure your bag with the twisty tie it comes with once brine is added.
- Allow your turkey to soak in the brine for 24 -72 hours. Remove your turkey from the brine and rinse very well with cold water. Discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and place into roasting pan. Sprinkle with pepper and place into the refrigerator.
- Allow your turkey to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours before cooking it – this will give your turkey a nice, crispy, golden skin when roasting, and lock the juices in as well.
Your turkey is ready to go!
*Extremely important sidenote: When you brine your turkey, you cannot use the juices/pan drippings to make homemade gravy, as it will be far too salty. Also – do not add salt to the turkey at any time during roasting as the bird will be quite salty enough. You do not want to overdo it!
I promise you, this will be the absolute best turkey you have ever tasted if you’ve never had a brined turkey before! I love to roast my turkey covered in foil for half the cooking time, and then remove the foil for the last few hours and turn the heat down a bit so it doesn’t burn the turkey. I like to start it out on a higher temp, somewhere around 400 and then turn it down to 325. You can also start your turkey out breast side down and cook it for an hour, then flip and baste and continue cooking that way until done.
I really do hope you enjoy this recipe – and if you do decide to use it, please leave me a comment and let me know how much you and your family loved it! I’d also love to see pictures!