If you find yourself facing turkey-anxiety every year, you can breathe a sigh of relief because Oliver’s is here, and we’ve brought brine. Brining may sound complex and scientific, but it’s actually a surprisingly simple way to add loads of flavor and moisture to meats. In the most basic sense, brining consists of marinating leaner meats in an intensely salty solution over a prolonged period of time, adding moisture and tenderizing the meat in one fell swoop. The herbs, salts, and spices used in a brine transforms a typically try piece of meat – like turkey – into the juiciest and most flavorful entree you can imagine.
It’s unfortunate, but the roasting process can cause meat to lose up to 30% of its moisture by the time it’s finished; however, brining can cut that moisture loss in half! The salts in the brine are so concentrated that they actually dissolve some of the meat fibers, making for a supremely tender turkey. Additionally, the salts actually help to break down some of the protein structures in the meat, allowing liquid to seep into the spaces in between. This ensure the meat absorbs a significant amount of moisture beyond what it would normally have, so while you can’t prevent losing some moisture during cooking, you can still ensure that the end result is juicy and delicious!
The truth is, you just can’t understand the benefits of a brine until you’ve tried a brined turkey for yourself. Just be warned – once you brine, there’s no going back! Check out our favorite, easy brine recipe below, it’s the perfect way to make a splash this Thanksgiving!
You Will Need:
- 1 Turkey, defrosted and entrails removed
- 5 cups Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 ½ gallons Water
- Large Food-Grade Plastic Tub or Bag
- 6 cups Ice
- 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sage
- 1 tablespoon Thyme
- 1 tablespoon Rosemary
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, and add both sugar and salt; stir until completely dissolved, then remove solution from heat. Add the herbs, vinegar, remaining water, and ice. Mix until combined.
Place the turkey in your prepared container or in a resealable bag, then pour in enough of the brine solution to completely submerge the turkey, leaving an inch or two of headspace at the top of the container/bag. Refrigerate the entire container – the turkey should be allowed to sit in the brine for about 1 hour per pound of turkey. A word of caution: an over-brined turkey is no one’s friend. It is always better to pull your turkey a little early than let it sit too long and wind up with a salt bomb.
When you’re ready to roast, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly in cold water to remove excess salt from the surface (make sure you rinse the cavity too). Discard the remaining brine in a sanitary way, then roast your turkey as per usual.
Keep the Thanksgiving fun rolling with these creative recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers!
Looking for some side dishes to go with your brined turkey? Check out our Thanksgiving recipes HERE!