by Mel Gardner
Turkey dinner is cherished holiday tradition. Just as every family
has different holiday traditions, every family has their own way of
cooking a turkey. From dry rub to deep fry, every cooking style is
turkeylicious, but which style provides the juiciest results? The
answer is brining.
Brining is the secret to a moist and flavorful turkey. By simply
submerging the turkey in a salty broth, brining is an easy pre-roasting
step to a juicy bird. It works because the salt breaks down proteins
causing the meat tissues to absorb water and flavor. So, despite long
roasting time, the turkey maintains its moisture.
Whether it's your first time cooking your own turkey, or an expert
turkey chef, this year may be the time to try brining your turkey. There
are many helpful step-by-step tutorials online, but here are the
First, you need a container large enough to submerge your turkey. A
very large pot will do, or there are brining bags you can buy. Do keep
in mind that the whole thing will need to fit in your fridge or cooler.
Next, the base of the brine is two cups of kosher salt to two cups of
sugar to two gallons of water. You may have to play with the ratios
depending on the size of your turkey. Then decide what flavors you want
soaked into the turkey. Popular choices are citrus slices, dried herbs,
crushed garlic and other aromatic flavors. You may also substitute some
of the sugar with other sweeteners such as maple syrup, brown sugar or
Over medium heat, combine a gallon of water, salt, sugar and other
flavor ingredients until salt and sugar are dissolved. Turn off heat
and let cool for 15 minutes. Put turkey in the container and pour the
broth over the turkey with the rest of the water. Put the whole
container in the fridge or iced cooler. Brine for one hour per pound of
turkey. Do not brine over 24 hours. The turkey will be too salty.
Once the brining is complete, take out the bird and rinse it with cool water. Then, pat dry with paper towels. You can take some of the ingredients
from your broth and put it on the skin. Otherwise, cook the turkey in
your preferred method. Be careful not to use any salt in rubs or
gravies. There will be plenty of salt in the turkey already.
You'll be surprised how truly juicy your turkey becomes after it has
been brined. Try it this year and enjoy your holiday turkey feast.