Nathen Harvey

a blog

Brine Your Turkey!

It’s Thanksgiving week. That means it’s time to start prepping your turkey.

In my opinion there are three very important things required for a terrific turkey:

  1. Start with a fresh turkey, I get mine from Maple Lawn Farms.
  2. Brine the turkey (for 12-24 hours)
  3. Once it’s in the oven, leave it alone!

I always prepare mine in an apple cider brine:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
  • 8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 6 cups ice

Of course, this is for a 12-pound turkey, adjust for the size of your turkey.

To prepare brine

  • combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  • Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve.
  • Cool completely.

To prepare the turkey

  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey.
  • Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry.
  • Trim excess fat.
  • Stuff body cavity with orange quarters.

You’ll need something to to store the turkey in while it brines. Brine bags are relatively easy to find. They can be a bit messy to deal with so you might just use a large stockpot or a bucket. The important things are that the turkey is fully submersed in the brine and that you keep the whole thing cold throughout the process.

Place the turkey in the brine bag or other vessel of your choice and cover with the liquid. Place all of that into a cooler and fill with ice or place it into your refrigerator, if you have the room. Leave the turkey in the brine for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Cooking the turkey

  • Remove the turkey from the brine
  • Discard the brine and orange quarters
  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry

Cook the turkey as you normally would. I like to start it breast side down for the first 30 minutes at a higher temperature (475º - 500º) then flip it over and reduce the heat to 350º for the remainder. If possible, use a leave-in thermometer so that you don’t have to continually open the oven to check the temperature of the turkey.

Once the turkey is done cooking, be sure to let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.