Having not experienced a brined turkey (or brined anything for that matter) up until a few years ago, I must say that there is quite a difference in taste and tenderness and I encourage those on the ‘to brine or not to brine’ fence to definitely go with the former. After brining, I typically like to prepare the turkey on our smoker (for a super-delicious end-result) but the bird will still taste great when roasted in the oven.
Ingredients (for a whole turkey, around 16 lbs; decrease quantities if preparing brine for a smaller piece of poultry)
- 2 c sugar
- 2 c salt (we like to use Redman’s sea salt but regular salt will do just fine)
- the juice from 2 oranges or lemons
- 2 bottles/cans of your favorite lager/ale/beer
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- few sprigs of your favorite herbs (rosemary and thyme)
- cold water or ice (enough to cover the bird once in the bucket)
- Fill a 6-quart stock pot with ~4 quarts of water; bring to a boil and add the salt, sugar, garlic and herbs. Stir and continue heating until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Transfer this mixture to a clean 5 gallon bucket (or other container large and sturdy enough). Add in the beer and orange/lemon juice and allow to cool for about an hour. Add the thawed turkey to the bucket and then add enough cold water and/or ice to cover the bird. Cover top of bucket with Saran wrap and place in a refrigerator for ~18 hours. (This is when that spare fridge in the garage comes in handy!)
- After the recommended time has passed, remove the turkey from brine and pat dry. Discard brine. Allow the turkey to rest for ~30 minutes and then rub olive oil on the skin and sprinkle with pepper.
- Bake at 325F for around 4 hours (or until the thermometer reads 170-175F in the thickest part of the turkey).