Make your Easter turkey one to be remembered! If you've never made or tried a brined turkey before, this is the perfect weekend to give it a go.
Brining is more or less the process of soaking your turkey (or any piece of meat) in a salt solution. This could simply be a mixture of water and salt, or a much fancier blend of stocks and spices. The idea is that salty solution will force moisture and a bit of salt into the meat, creating a much juicier and evenly seasoned finished product.
If you're concerned about all of the salt that goes into the brine, don't worry. Most of that salt will stay in the brine after you remove the meat, which you will also be rinsing off before you cook it.
If you are making a gravy or pan sauce with your turkey drippings (which you obviously are, right?) be sure to taste your gravy BEFORE seasoning it, as the drippings from a brined turkey will be a little saltier than a non-brined turkey. Also pay attention to whether or not your turkey has been brined in advanced, as many grocery store turkeys come pre-injected with a sodium solution. This may also apply to butter basted turkeys as well. Mind you, I've brined frozen, pre-butter basted turkeys before with great success.
The brine recipe I'm about to share with you is a simple, yet effective recipe for creating a fantastically flavourfull turkey. So, without futher ado, here it is:
1 gallon chicken or vegetable stock
1 gallon of cold water
1 cup of salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 dried bay leaves
2 sprigs of dried rosemary
a handful of sage leaves
Note: If you do not have fresh herbs available you may use a few tablespoons of the dried varieties as well. Also, poultry seasoning works well.
- In a large stock pot over high heat combine all of the brine ingredients minus the water. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.
- In your brining bucket or bag, combine the stock and cold water. Place the turkey breast side down in the solution, being sure to fill the cavity. Place the bucket or bag in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you are ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well with cold water. Be sure to rinse out the cavity as well.
- Keep in mind that a brined piece of meat will cook faster than an un-brinned piece of meat.