Brining your holiday turkey is a great way to ensure that you have a moist and flavorful bird after all of the time and effort you’ve put into it. A whole turkey must brine for about 24 hours, so plan accordingly. Also, a brined turkey will brown faster, so have plenty of aluminum foil on-hand.
Brining is like soaking your turkey in a salted water solution. This changes the cell structure of the meat, allowing it to hold more moisture. Plus as it is absorbing more moisture, it is also seasoning the turkey. Do not us a kosher or self-basting turkey as they have already been injected with a salted broth and will produce an over-salty bird.
Lemon and Herb Turkey Brine
8 quarts cold water (4 cups = 1 quart)
1 pound kosher salt
Strips of zest from 2 lemons (removed with vegetable peeler)
1 garlic bulb, cut in half through the cloves
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 pound honey
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
5 gallon bucket (clean) or a container large enough for brine and turkey
1 (12 to 15 pound) natural turkey – not self-basting or kosher, thawed
Use a large pot or stock pot and add 2 of quarts water, salt, lemon zest, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until salt has dissolved. Transfer to clean container and stir in remaining 6 quarts of cold water, honey, and the fresh herbs. Cool completely to room temperature.
Remove turkey from fridge. Remove the neck and giblet and reserve for giblet gravy. Submerge turkey in brine. You may have to find a heavy object (I used a grill press) to keep the turkey fully submerged.
Place the container in the fridge to brine turkey overnight (12 to 16 hours). One hour before grilling, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse to remove salt from the surface, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. You’re now ready to grill or roast your turkey!
Also see: Bourbon and Molasses Turkey Brine
Cheers and Happy Grilling!