We have a turkey competition every year for Thanksgiving. Which means we have to get creative on cooking methods and ingredients. Our best turkey was decidedly a brined turkey cooked on the Big Green Egg. Left overnight in an ice brine, and roasted to perfection. It was truly a lot of work, but worth it! I highly recommend taking the time to brine your turkey, it makes all difference in moisture and taste.
Why Brine Your Turkey?
Turkey is a fairly lean bird, specifically the breast meat, which means that it doesn’t have a lot of fat to help keep the meat from becoming dry and tough. A brine is a soaking solution of water and salt. By brining the turkey overnight, you are essentially infusing it with moisture and flavor. The added moisture will prevent the turkey from drying out during roasting. The turkey also absorbs the salt, which breaks down some of the turkey’s proteins, making it more tender.
What kind of Turkey is Best For Brining?
I highly recommend a fresh, free range, organic turkey. Most turkeys available in the grocery store are filled with sodium solution and chemicals. You will truly notice a difference if you use fresh turkey. You can order them online from Whole Foods
Steps to Brining
Start the process the day before you plan to roast the turkey. You will want to allow plenty of brine time.
Use a five gallon bucket, a clean cooler, or brining bags . You will be need to entirely submerge the turkey. Clear some refrigerator space and make sure your container will fit. Or you can keep in a cooler as long as you add ice. Mix the brine solution. Pour the mixture over the turkey.
Cover and refrigerate submerged turkey for 12 to 24 hours.Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. If you have time, let the turkey air-dry overnight in the refrigerator.
Roast as usual
Here is a link to my favorite roasting pan!
- 1 gallon vegetable broth
- 1 cup sea salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried savory
- 1 gallon ice water
- 2 c. brown sugar
- 3 tbsp. peppercorns
- 5 whole bay leaves
- Peel of three large oranges
- In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, savory, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves, and orange peels. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt & sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.
- Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
- Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.