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10 Recipes & Tips for Turkey Brine: Simple to Sophisticated, Here are the Best of the Best

With just days to go before the Thanksgiving holiday, today is an ideal time to start preparing your turkey for brining to give it some extra flavor and a nice, moist punch.  Brining a turkey requires a few simple ingredients, a bit of salt water, a few herbs and spices, a fully thawed turkey.  It’s an easy, quick way to ensure yourself the best turkey meat of the season because the salted brine solution not only seeps into the turkey meat, giving it great flavor, but it also softens up the muscle fibers, lending a tenderness to the turkey.  Before you choose from our list of favorite brines, make sure you know the basics of brining safety.  Keep mind these five basic steps for truly incredible turkey:

  • 1) Prepare your brine at least 24 hours before Thanksgiving to allow the flavors to fully meld.
    2) Make sure you make enough bring to full cover your turkey.
  • 3) Chill brine completely in the refrigerator before adding poultry. Allow the turkey to sit in the brine in the fridge, not at room temperature.
  • 4) Rinse poultry twice after removing it from the brine solution; discard brine. If you are not ready to cook at the end of the brining time, remove from brine and rinse the meat. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • 5) Soak turkey in brine for 1 hour per pound.
  • 6) For best results, always use stainless steel, glass or food-grade plastic containers.
  • 7) Remember that the longer you brine the stronger the flavor will be.
  • 8) Do not salt brined meat before cooking.
  • 9) Brining actually provides a cushion for cooking, so you can even overcook by a few degrees and the item will remain moist
  • 10) Water is a heat conductor, so you’ll likely find that a brined item will cook faster than an non-brined item

The Simplest Turkey Brine Ever
It’s easy, but it’s good. Don’t let the small list of ingredients fool you. Your turkey will cook up flavorful and tender with this basic, Amish brine.
2/3 cup coarse kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
8 cups hot water
4 cups ice water
Dissolve salt and sugar in the hot water. Add ice water and chill completely before brining turkey.

Basic Turkey Brine
3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 gallon cold water
1 tablespoon black pepper
Combine salt, sugar, and boiling water until dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill brine completely before soaking turkey.

Dried Herb Brine
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
In a large pot, heat vegetable broth to boiling. Add salt and herbs. Remove from the stove and add the ice water. Chill the brine completely before adding your turket.

Cranberry Apple Turkey Brine
Slightly sweet, with the subtle flavors of fresh herbs.
1 quart cranberry juice
1 quart of apple juice
1 quart water
1 cup salt (1 1/2 cups Kosher or coarse salt)
1/2 cup orange juice
8-12 cloves garlic, crushed
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary
Combine all ingredients in a large pot.

Citrus Kissed Turkey Brine
3 cups Apple Cider
1/4 cup Fresh Rosemary
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1½ cup Kosher Salt
2 cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel Of Three Large Orange, zested
2 gallons ice water
In a large pot, bring apple cider to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Remove from heat, cover, and allow all the of the flavors to sit and soak for 30 minutes. Add ice water to mixture, chilling completely before adding turkey.

Country Club Brine
1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
In a large pot, comvine salt, sugar, stock and bring to a boil. Add remaining spices. Remove from heat and add water. Chill completely before brining turkey.

Drunken Turkey Brine
adapted from Martha Stewart Magazine
7 quarts (28 cups) water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
In a large pot, heat water and salt together until the salt is fully dissolved.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Remove from heat and chill completely before brining.

Emeril Lagasse’s Turkey Brine
2 gallons cold water
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
Dissolve the salt and sugar in water. Add remaining ingredients before adding turkey to the brine.

Paula Deen’s Poultry Brine

1 cup kosher salt
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups boiling water
5 cups ice cold water
Add all ingredients to the boiling water, remove from heat and allow mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Stir in 5 cups ice cold water and bring chill mixture completely before adding turkey.

Tea Time Turkey Brine

1.5 gallons water
3 cups dry white wine
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cups brown sugar
5 bay leaves
2 tbsp peppercorns whatever color you prefer or have on hand
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 black teabags
1 large onion thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dill seeds
Heat 5 cups of water to a boil. Add all salt, sugar, and spices. Remove from heat and pour in white wine and remaining water. Chill completely before soaking turkey in brine.

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