Getting stressed out about Thanksgiving dinner? Thanksgiving is a lot of work, and there are tons of recipes to choose from, but I’m going to suggest you brine your turkey for the most delicious dinner. Find out why!
Yes, brining adds another step (and it’s not necessary) but brining is the very best way to get an incredibly flavorful and tender turkey—a brine adds moisture and intensely scrumptious flavor.
servings: brine for a 15 pound turkey
- 1/4 cup whole allspice berries
- 1/2 cup black peppercorns
- 1 dozen bay leaves
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 cups honey
- 4 cups maple syrup
- 1 pound kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- 10 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1 large bag of ice
Step 1: Make a bouquet garni with the allspice berries, peppercorns and bay leaves. (“Bouquet garni” is French for “bouquet garnish” which is a small bundle of herbs and spices wrapped in cheesecloth and tied together with string. It can be used to flavor soups, stocks, and stews.)
Step 2: In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil with the salt. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the honey, syrup, ground cloves, cinnamon sticks, and bouquet garni. Continue to simmer for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat and cool to room temperature (with such a large quantity, cooling could take a few hours).
Step 3: Pour the brine into a large plastic tub (make sure the tub is large enough to avoid the brine overflowing!).
Step 4: Rinse the turkey with cold water, inside and out.
Step 5: Add the ice to the brine and stir to blend. Place the turkey in the brine breast side up, and cover, making sure the turkey is fully submerged in the water. Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator, up to twelve hours.
Step 6: Remove the turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and prepare according to your turkey roasting instructions.
Important Brining Notes:
- If your tub for the brine and turkey is too large for your refrigerator (mine always is), you can add the brine and turkey to a large plastic bag—a clean, new trash bag is perfect. Once the turkey and brine are in the bag, put the full bag into a large cooler, surrounded by additional ice.
- Many kitchen stores and markets sell bouquet garni “bags.” This is a time saver—get them!I usually divide the herbs and spices into a few bags.
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