Friday, November 7, 2008



We've made the gravy, dressing and potatoes ahead and have them ready to just warm up on Thanksgiving Day. Soooooo now to cook tha bird!

If you've ever had to choke down a mouth-full of dry turkey, you'll appreciate this method for making your holiday dinner a hit! It's called "brining". And it will make your turkey the most luscious, moist, tasty bird that has ever graced a dining room table.

When you buy your turkey, make sure it's not a self-basting or Kosher one. ( some of my friends have reported they have used a Butterball and it worked fine), I prefer a fresh turkey if I can get it, but that's only for farm people. City folks will have to settle for a frozen one from the store LOL

FIRST, consider the size of the turkey you're going to cook and decide if you are going to be able to fit it into the fridge. If you can't, then you're gonna need a large cooler because you need to let the bird marinate for about 6-8 hours for a turkey up to 12 pounds and 12-14 hours for larger birds up to 20 pounds.
Ziplock has just come out with bags that will easily accommodate the largest bird you can buy. WTG ZIPLOCK!! The extra, extra large ones measure 2' X 2' ( 20 gal ), so that problem has been solved for us.

NEXT, calculate the amount of 'brine' you will need. The best way to do this is to put "Tom" in the ziplock bag and add enough water to completely cover him. Then take him out and measure the amount of water it took and subtract 1 ( one)quart. That is how much you will need to add salt and the other brining ingredients to.

NOW, add the amount of salt you will need for the amount of water you are going to use. DO NOT USE TABLE .SALT! Use canning salt which can be purchased in any grocery store in the canning section. Ask your grocer if you're not sure. It has to be "iodine" free. And add 1/2 cup for every 2 quarts of water you will be using. Remembering, you will also be adding a quart of apple juice to this mix along with the other ingredients, so make sure you have anough room for everything. But, if you miscalculate and have more brining solution than you need, just toss it.

Here is the list of the other ingredients you will be adding to your Ziplock bag:

Turkey Brine Recipe

2 cups brown sugar
1 quart apple juice
3 oranges, quartered
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
1-2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1-2 tablespoons sage

Just remember, this ain't rocket science folks. If you get a little more or a little less of any of the ingredients (except the salt lol), your turkey will still be great!

Mix all ingredients, including the turkey, in a container large enough to submerge the turkey and completely cover with brine. You must keep the turkey at a safe temperature during the brining process.You have to keep the temperature in the cooler down to less than 40 degrees during the entire brining process.That's why you might need a cooler. If your bird is too large to fit back into your fridge, pack it (and the bag it's in) in ice and keep it submerged in ice water the whole time. If your turkey is frozen to start with, you won't have to worry about replenishing ice as often. Just make sure you keep it as cold as you need to

I freeze water in 1/2 gallon milk jugs and use these to keep the brine cold and to weigh the turkey down so it remains submerged. I change the jugs out every few hours, so you will need to freeze 2-3 sets of jugs.

The turkey should brine for 10-12 hours. ( NOTE,
BRINING TOO LONG CAN RUIN THE FLAVOR) I brined mine for about 10 hours.
Smaller turkeys require less time in the brine, ( for instance, I would brine an 8 pound turkey about 6 hours)
If you find you'd like to brine it longer the next time then you can, but keeping the time short until you see how it tastes will insure it will not be too salty.

When you are ready to cook your turkey, remove it from the brine and THOROUGHLY rinse interior and exterior with cold water until all the salt and sugar is removed. Pat dry using paper towels ( this makes the turkey have a prettier skin when baked). Discard brine and cook turkey as normal, which is

Cooler will have to be completely disinfected with bleach if you intend to use it again.

NOTES: When I cook my turkey, I loosen the skin from the meat by running my fingers under the skin all over the breast and down the legs. Then I smear a stick of soft butter under the skin all over . It is wonderful tasting!! Soooo moist and flavorful

I sometimes add a teaspoon of poultry seasoning to the stick of soft butter, but just plain ole butter will make it taste wonderful!

PS. If anyone ever has any questions you can put them in the "comments" section at the end of every post and I'll reply. ( I'm always glad to help.;-)

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