At the moment of my writing, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the word turkey kept popping up in my mind.
As I wrote in my Char Broil big easy infrared reviews I am a big fan of the oil-less turkey fryers after eating a turkey cooked in one of them a few years ago. Brining a turkey is a great way to prepare it before grilling, frying, baking, or roasting it.
Why Would You Brine A Turkey?
Brining actually is nothing else than soaking your turkey in a solution of a liquid and salt for at least a day before you are planning on cooking it.
What it does, and that is one of the benefits of brining, is add a lot of moisture and flavor to the turkey and this will help it stay moist while cooking it.
Brining needs very little planning and in combination with the little time, it takes it is worth doing to enhance the flavor of your Thanksgiving turkey.
Or to be honest any turkey on any given day. It will also rinse out some of the solutions that store-bought turkeys have and most of the time are not that healthy.
What Do You Need To Brine A Turkey
There are just a few things you need for brining although you can make it as complicated as you wish.
- A pot to brine
- A liquid
Yes, that is all you need and you can add any spice you like to get the flavor you like.
A Pot To Brine
This is in many cases easier said than done. A Thanksgiving turkey can be pretty big and during the brining, it has to stay cool.
- Large pan in the fridge
The best place to brine is in a big pot or pan in the refrigerator this is also not easy because of the size and most people do not have room in the fridge for this.
- In a cooler with ice
This is most of the time my way of brining. The fridge is most of the time filled with food and not enough room there.
A large enough cooler filled with ice to keep the temperature between above-freezing and 40 degrees will do a great job.
All you have to do is place the bird in a large airtight back with the brine and pack ice around it.
Check the temperature to keep in the temperature range and, most importantly not above 40 degrees.
Brine the bird for a minimum of 24 hours but do not get carried away by the idea that longer is better. In this case, it is not always like that. 48 hours should be the max and this also depends on the weight of the turkey of course.
My Personal Recipe
As you might know, I am not much into so-called “secret recipes” as some people do. Here is my recipe.
- Water with some added apple cider
- Half a cup of salt per gallon of water
- Garlic, Peppercorns, Thyme, Lemon juice, and orange juice
The lemon and orange juice act as a natural tenderizer and it is my experience that this really works.
In A Hurry?
One of the advantages of brining is that it helps to thaw out your turkey faster. This means that even when you are in a hurry and the turkey is frozen you can use this method to defrost it faster and in the meantime let the flavors be absorbed in the meat.
Cooking A Turkey
This is a subject we all have our own opinion about. Some people are really particular and use the same method year after year. I am more of a try something new kind of guy and I have to be honest that this sometimes is not a good idea to do around the holidays. Try new things when you do not have to cook for a crowd. There are several ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and here are a few.
I am not a fan of deep-frying a turkey. I have eaten them and although they taste good the risk of fire and burning the house down does not weigh up against that good-tasting meat.
I have seen too many videos and read too many news items about this to scare me. If you prefer deep frying please pay close attention to safety and do it outside.
Roasting in the oven is a lot safer than deep frying in my personal opinion. There are many ways to roast a turkey and I am sure you have your favorite way. Maybe in a turkey bag or just straight in the oven?
Infrared Turkey Fryer
If you have been reading some of my posts you know I am a big fan of the Char Broil infrared system and you can read here what infrared grilling is.
The reason I like this way of cooking a turkey, or any bird or even many types of meat, is that it is safe and easy to use. The system works the same as on my Char Boil grill2go and I have some great experience with infrared grilling.
More About Turkeys
I am not so crazy about most store-bought turkeys. They have a lot of solutions added and in my opinion, not of the best kind. Most of them use a soy-based solution and if you feel like reading up on that this is not too healthy.
Finding a more natural turkey will involve finding a local or online retailer. it is however a well-known fact that for most local and organic turkey farms you have to order in the spring when they start raising the chicks.
If you have any experience with brining a turkey or any other meat let us know in the comments below and share your knowledge with the readers and me to improve how to brine a Thanksgiving turkey.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken