The best turkeys I’ve ever experienced were brined. Brining results in a tasty moist bird even the breast meat which can tend to get dry by the time the legs and thighs are up to temperature. It’s a great way to start getting flavor into your bird. Let’s see what a brine is and what it does courtesy of the folks over at www.thekitchn.com
What Is Brine?
Brine is a salt solution made by mixing salt and water, usually about 5 to 8 percent salt by weight. Some recipes include sugar and other ingredients to add flavor to the meat being brined, but a basic brine is a salt-water solution.
How Does Brining Work?
Here are three major functions accomplished by brining —and reasons to try it. It’s so easy, too.
- Meat absorbs some of the liquid: When a piece of meat is soaked in a brine solution, that solution is slowly drawn into the meat, and even though some of it is inevitably lost during cooking, it still makes a big difference. Since the meat starts out with more liquid within, it ends up juicier and moister when cooked.
- Muscle fibers are dissolved: Highly concentrated salt solutions will cause proteins to precipitate (essentially forcing them to aggregate with each other and clump together). On the other hand, a low-concentration salt solution has the opposite effect and actually can increase protein solubility and allow more proteins to dissolve. So brine actually helps dissolve some of the muscle fibers, which helps to reduce the toughness of meat.
- Muscle fibers and meat proteins denature: A salt solution can denature proteins, essentially unfolding and unraveling them. As they unfold, water works its way in between these proteins so there is more water in between the meat proteins as the meat cooks. This results in a more tender cooked meat.
This brine recipe turns out a great tasting juicy turkey for your friends and families this holiday season! It’s easy to do with a little bit of forethought and it even means less cooking time so no more getting up at dawn to put your holiday bird in the oven. Brined birds cook faster than un-brined taking only about 9 to 10 minutes per pound.
Belly Rub Turkey Brine – enough for a 15 to 20-pound turkey
What I used:
- A large cooler
- 1 bag of ice
- 1 Heavy Duty Trash Bag
- 1 Turkey sized Oven Bag
- 1 Jar Belly Rub Everything Seasoning – divided
- ½ ounce Fresh Sage sprigs
- ½ ounce Fresh Thyme sprigs
- 1 ½ Cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ Gallon Water
- 1 Gallon Heavily Iced Water
Step by Step Instructions
Remove ¼ cup pf Belly Rub Everything Seasoning and set aside
In a large sauce pan bring to a boil the rest of the jar of Belly Rub Everything Seasoning, herbs, salt and pepper then remove the pot from the heat
Pour the dissolved solution into the gallon of ice water and set aside
Line the trash bag with the oven cooking bag and put it in the cooler on top of the bag of ice
Remove the neck and giblets from the thawed turkey and place the bird in the oven bag, neck end down
Pour the cooled solution into the cavity of the turkey, it will come out the neck end and start surrounding the bird
Squeeze all the air from the oven bag and tie the bag in a knot.
Squeeze all the air from the trash bag and tie in a knot
Place the turkey breast side down on top of the bag of ice and close the cooler
Let the turkey sit in the brine for 18 to 24 hours
When you’re ready to roast the bird, remove it from the brine and rinse inside and out then pat the outside of the turkey dry
Pre-warm your oven to 500F
Rub the entire bird with the ¼ cup of Belly Rub Everything Seasoning
Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan folding the wings under the breast
Put the turkey in the pre-heated oven and roast for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 350F
Continue to roast the turkey at 350F until the thickest part of the breast reads 161F on a probe thermometer
Tent the turkey with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving