Brining the Bird

November 22, 2011

Main Dishes

Dry…sandy…bland…borrrrrring….that is not what you will find on the WikiJan table when it comes to making a turkey.  Yes you too can make a turkey that literally runs with juicy-ness as you slice into it.  Does this sound like a mystery you think can not be mastered well think again.  Can you fry an egg?  Make brownies from a box mix?  Then you can make a stellar Roasted turkey.

Brining is a fantastic way to bring more flavor to the Turkey game.  Think of brining as a way to get all the great herbs and spices from sitting on the surface to actually being carried into the flesh of the bird.  There is this really cool process that happens when you brine a turkey the salt water, loaded down with flavors from the spices simmered into a “tea” of sorts, in the brine pulls moisture out of the turkey…Now wait just a minute!  I can here you thinking what in the world is she talking about, if you pull moisture out of the bird it will be even more dry right?  Well not so fast you see yes the salt water pulls moisture out but there is a point where all that can be taken out stops then the process puts on the brakes and shoves the gear shift into reverse.  What happens then is that same salt water “tea” loaded down with tons of flavor starts going back into the turkey carrying along all your lovely seasonings.

The first time I made a turkey this way I was really skeptical, surely it would not work as described.  Man was I wrong.  After allowing Tom to rest I started slicing into his little thigh and had to put dish towels around my cutting board to sop up all the juices literally running out of  Tom.  The skin was crispy brown and the herb flavor in the meat itself was fantastic.

Cool thing about this brine is that you can swap out the herbs/spices and use it for chicken and pork.

Ok let’s get started


1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 qt  stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

1 sprig rosemary (remainder of the pkg to stuff the bird)

1/2 pkg fresh sage (remainder in the bird)

1/2 pkg Thyme (remainder in the bird)

2 oranges quartered (one in the brine one in the bird)

6-8 cloves garlic (1/2 in the brine, 1/2 in the bird)

6-8″ piece fresh ginger (1/2 in the brine, 1/2 in the bird)

1 onion

1 gallon ice

1- 2 gal. ziplock

Divide the fresh herbs, ginger, orange and garlic saving half of each to stuff in the bird. Put everything but the ice in a stock pot and boil for about 5 minutes then allow to cool to luke warm, pour everything in the pot into a 2 gal or larger ziplock and add ice. Put the Ziplock in the large bowl to catch any stray brine, rinse out the bird removing the guts in the cavity.

Just toss them all in then pour in the stock, boil for 5 minutes.

Give the ice a good stir to melt most of it

Submerge the bird into the brine forcing out the excess air, making sure it is completely under the brine, if needed use a heavy plate/dish to keep the bird in the brine, because I was making a small bird I just used my 22qt stock pot.  Allow to soak over night in a cool place, due to the amount of salt in the brine you do not have to worry about bacteria growing.

You don’t want a floating Tom peeking out of the brine

When you are ready to cook said bird remove and discard the brine, quickly rinse the bird cavity and pat dry.  Stuff the 2nd half of the withheld herbs and quartered onion & orange into the cavity, it will be a tight fit but stuff them all in there.

Fill the bird up with remaining herbs etc.

Use a chunk of Onion and orange to hold everything inside

Don’t forget to tuck the wings in under the body of the bird like so…

Pull back and start twisting toward the body of the bird

Give it s good push to start it folding under the body

…and tuck right under the body

Take piece of foil and press onto the turkey to make a foil hat of sorts, set aside for now.  Rub some olive oil over the dried skin and dust with salt pepper and a bit of garlic powder if you would like.Press it down to form to the bird

Give your bird a good rub down with oil

Lovely sprinkles of flavor

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and place Tom in the oven for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350

Your bird should be about half way to the color you prefer when you turn down the fire

Put your foil hat on your Tom and bake until your internal temp is 165 degrees.  It should take about 2 1/2 hours for a 10-12 lb turkey.

You are about 3/4 of the way there with this shade of brown

Ahhhh the golden brown crispy-ness!

Once Tom is finished with his stay in the firebox allow him to rest for 10 -15 minutes before carving.

See no problem easy as frying an egg…just takes a bit longer.

Now go play with your food.



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