Brining Brings Out the Best in Your Bird This Thanksgiving

The Right Way to Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
How many of you will be roasting a turkey this Thursday? In honor of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d try something different with this week’s QuickTip. Instead of the usual tech-related information, CMIT Solutions wants to ensure you have the tastiest holiday possible.

This brings us to the star of most Thanksgiving tables: the turkey. “Brining” a turkey refers to submerging it in a salty solution for a set amount of time before cooking. Brining helps the individual muscle cells of the protein retain water, delivering moist, juicy meat. For an in-depth explanation of the science behind brining, see this page.

Once you’ve tasted the results of the brining method, you’ll never roast (or fry, for that matter) a turkey the traditional way again.


Here’s What You’ll Need for the Brine (Recipe Adapted from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” Cookbook):

1 thawed turkey, ideally 14-16 lbs.

1 cup kosher salt (yes, it must be kosher)

½ cup light brown sugar

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

1 ½ tsp allspice berries

1 ½ tsp candied ginger, chopped

1 gallon of heavily iced water

For the Aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced

½ onion, sliced

1 stick cinnamon

1 cup water

4 sprigs rosemary

6 sage leaves

Canola oil

You’ll also need a well-insulated cooler and a clean plastic trash bag.

Cooking Directions

Prepare the brine the morning before the day you plan to roast the bird, as it needs to soak in the brine for 8-16 hours. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and stir in the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and ginger until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove the brine from the heat and cool to room temperature (place the stock pot in an ice bath if you’re in a hurry).

Once the brine is cool, combine it with ice water in a cooler lined with a clean garbage bag. Place the thawed turkey (giblets removed) breast side down in the brine—the bird must be fully submerged. Tie up the top of the garbage bag and place a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler, along with some extra ice if needed (the temperature inside the cooler must stay below 38 degrees). Alternatively, if you have a large enough refrigerator, you can put the bird and the brine in a clean 5-gallon bucket and then stick the bucket in the fridge.)

After the 8-16 hours are up, remove the bird, discard the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (yes, 500 degrees).

Combine all the aromatics except for the rosemary, sage, and canola oil in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for five minutes. Insert the steeped aromatics into the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Coat the bird liberally with canola oil.

Place the bird on a roasting rack. If you’re so inclined, separate the turkey’s skin from the breast meat at the edge of the cavity opening just enough so that you can stick your hand in there. Take some chilled pats of butter and whole sage leaves and slide them in between the skin and the meat. Roast the turkey at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Place a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and reduce the cooking temperature to 350. Remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Cover loosely with foil for 15 minutes before carving.

If you do use this brining method for your Thanksgiving turkey, please email us to let us know how it turned out. We’d love to know what you think of this method.

Happy Thanksgiving from CMIT Solutions!

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