Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday always lands on the second Monday in October and many of us celebrate in a similar way to Americans, including roasting a turkey. Up to about ten years ago, whenever I cooked a turkey, it seemed it was a hit and miss thing that I would end up with a moist turkey, especially with the white meat. I’d try to follow all the basting rules, but still, the turkey might not come out all that great.
Now however, I almost always brine my turkeys before they are cooked. Today was no exception as I had my son with me and he insisted on turkey for dinner.
Many people that brine poultry (yes, you can brine chickens as well, and even breast meat cuts can benefit) have their own way to do it. Here’s mine, which always has guests exclaiming how tasty, moist, and juicy the turkey is:
Turkey Brine Ingredients and Method
Basically, heat up 2 gallons of water (even though I don’t usually use that much of the brine but it keeps the salt, etc standardized).
Dissolve 1 1/2 cups kosher salt, 1 cup honey, and 2 cups of brown sugar into the hot water.
The water doesn’t need to be boiling but does need to be quite hot to ensure salt dissolves into solution.
Then I chop garlic cloves in half, throw them in. How many? At least a full head of garlic. Sometimes 2, if they are small.
Slice up a lemon whole and throw that in.
I usually like to use fresh herbs consisting of sage, thyme and savory if available. Large handful of sprigs of each. More sage than the others though.
If fresh isn’t available, I add about 5 or 6 tablespoons of what is called “Poultry Seasoning.”
Add about ten bay leaves.
Today’s turkey was about 14 lbs. I could fit it in one my stock pots that also fits in my fridge but in the winter, I’ll just put on my enclosed porch where it is always very cold during winter. You do want the turkey and the brine to remain at below 45F.
Let it brine for about 24 hours.
Roasting A Brined Turkey
When roasting, after 2 hours, check the skin.. the addition of honey and sugar can cause the skin to crisp up quicker. I put a lid on the roasting pan after 2 1/2 hours and let it cook another 30 minutes. 325F.
A few times I’ve made gravy from the drippings and people thought it was awesome.. it’s always better with a brined turkey, but I also thinking getting a free range turkey is also key, as well as using a lard/flour roux to thicken.
The white meat comes out juicy and tender. Very juicy and tender with hints of the spices as well, in the flavour.
I remember the first time I tried brining turkey before roasting it, and was a bit nervous about the process. But I am glad I gave it a try and from now on, that is how I will prepare them, if I’m able.
Do you brine your own? Is your brine substantially different than what I do? Let me know!