Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Makeover Part II - The Best Turkey Brine

I have never used brine with a turkey before.  This year I decided to try something a little different.  Our Thanksgiving turkey was so moist and juicy, but with a crispy skin.  The meat just fell off the bone, as you can see in the pictures provided.

Tarragon and orange work so well together.  I live in Florida and the orange trees are producing fruit right now.  I used both flavors in the brine and in the rub.  The result was a subtle orange and herb flavor throughout the turkey, not just on the skin. 

Here is my recipe for the Best Turkey Brine. 

Because this brine is lower in salt, you can feel free to salt your bird to taste before cooking.

Note: Use a non-reactive pot when you brine. 

The Best Turkey Brine (Enough for a 16 pound turkey)

5 quarts Water
1/3 cup Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Peppercorns
¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Orange, quartered and Squeezed of Juice
1 medium Spanish Onion, halved
1 tablespoon dried Tarragon
1 dried Bay leaf, crushed
1 quart Ice Cubes

Combine all ingredients including orange rind but excluding ice cubes into a large non-reactive pot.  The pot should be big enough to submerge your turkey into the brine.

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for one hour.  

Cool thoroughly - add ice cubes to expedite the cooling process.  Do not submerge the bird until the brine is cool.

Turkey in Brine

Once cooled, submerge your turkey into the pot, cover and refrigerate. Brine approximately forty-five minutes to an hour per pound of meat for best results.

See Note for Rub Recipe

Note:  I added a little salt, pepper, onion and half of an orange to the cavity of the bird. I basted my turkey with melted butter and a mixture of salt, pepper, rubbed sage, dried tarragon, and poultry seasoning before baking.  I covered my bird for all but the last 45 minutes of baking time. 

The last thirty minutes, I basted my bird with a mixture of butter and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Happy Holidays:  I will be showing you a few great leftover recipes in upcoming posts.

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