TT: Brining is your friend

one happy bird

one happy bird

People either love it or hate it. Personally, we over here at OHC HQ love the brine. More specifically, I love the brine and making brine while Scott loves the results of the brine. And, I know you’ve heard it thousands of times so I’m going to just get it out of the way in the beginning, please brine your bird.

Yes, brining does all the glorious things that you’ve heard before. It makes for a really juicy turkey and as someone who grew up eating her fair share of dry turkey (I’m sorry mom, you tried and it’s okay we still had great Thanksgivings!), a nicely roasted juicy turkey is an awesome thing to behold. And inhale. And then nap off.

But that’s not the point I want to get across. What I want to let you in on, is that brining is like a marinade only kicked waaaayyyy up and so much better. Because you can flavor your brine however you want and that flavor will infuse all through whatever is getting brined. I’ve used cider and wine in brines. Yes, the results were awesome. And when I can look over and see Scott desperately trying to get every last bit of meat off a bone, I know it came out well.

I am however still new to the brine. I only started brining my turkey a few years ago. I use a huge white bucket that I bought specifically for brining my turkey. It’s only two of us for Thanksgiving but I still cook a whole bird to make things a little more special and because I like roasting things. I’ve over cooked my turkey and because I used a brine, the turkey still came out edible and not too dry.

When you pull the turkey out of the brine, it immediately starts to fill the kitchen with awesome smells. Brining just bumps up the flavor that much more.

What I have learned along the way:

  • Start your brine the day before and put your turkey in it around dinner time. If you are going to start cooking the turkey earlier the next day, put it in the brine earlier. A good 12 hours or so is a good amount of time for a 10-12lb bird.
  • You do not have to boil brines. Some call for it, but the goal is to make sure the salt and sugar (if you use it) dissolve. Cold water/liquids work just fine.
  • Play around with different flavors in the brine. This year I’m trying a little spicy twist, we’ll see how it turns out!

I do not have a special brine recipe for you at the moment because I’m still tweaking my turkey brine. However, there are a bizillion brine recipes out there to take a peek at and try. And if you are a little nervous about brining a whole turkey, start off small and try some chicken. That takes a shorter brine time and you’ll be able to try first hand what I’m talking about. Then you can move on to bigger things!

Show your turkey some love this year, and brine that bird!

6 thoughts on “TT: Brining is your friend

  1. Going to my mom’s means that I have pretty little control over the cooking, but I must ask if it’s bad to admit that I’m salivating over that turkey skin? :)

  2. Camtim42 says:

    My only responsibility it making the turkey this year and I’ve successfully made good ones for the last 2 years, but this year I want to make a GREAT one. I’m going to look up simple brines now, but if you want to offer more details I’m all ears :) Thanks for posting this!

  3. We’ve done the family bird via brining for the past 3 thanksgivings, but i think this year might take a break. It comes out really good, moist, but we always have a problem with certain parts being under-done. The method we use is Alton Brown’s (using a probe), and we followed it strictly, but still had the underdone parts. I dunno, maybe it’s because the turkey we do is always rather large, more than 17 lbs… but yeah brining is great, have had good success w/ chickens.

  4. I’ve never been responsible for cooking the bird on the hols and my begging for brine always falls on deaf ears, but I brine darn near every piece of chicken and pork that comes into my kitchen. Several of the spice blends from Penzey’s work really well, especially the viniagrette and Italian dressing blends.

  5. Heather says:

    ha ha I must be the only one who doesn’t like her poultry juicy. :O It makes me queasy. I like it slightly dry. Not too dry mind you. Just slightly. My mom cooked a turkey Butterball breast for our Thanksgiving and I thought it was horrible. It was way too greasy. :(

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