7 Tips to Expertly Brine a Turkey
										These expert tips will help you confidently prepare the best Thanksgiving turkey for your guests.

7 Tips to Expertly Brine a Turkey These expert tips will help you confidently prepare the best Thanksgiving turkey for your guests.

Deciding to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is quite the undertaking. Cooking this traditional holiday poultry comes with a handful of potential difficulties, like finding the right size turkey for your group, adding enough flavor, leaving enough time to thaw, and avoiding one of the most common turkey-related issues: making sure it doesn’t dry out. One way to avoid a dry turkey is with the process of brining, but exactly how do you brine a turkey the right way?

Brining entails soaking the bird in a basic saltwater solution, which changes the texture of the meat, thereby helping it to absorb more moisture. And while this extra step certainly isn’t required, it can take any turkey from mediocre to mind-blowing. The process itself isn’t too complicated, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before—especially if you’re prepping a turkey for a whole group of people.

To learn more about how to perfectly (and confidently) brine your Thanksgiving turkey, we talked to expert chefs to get their best tips. Read on, and for more Thanksgiving dinner help, check out Costco vs. Sam’s Club: Which Has the Better-Priced Thanksgiving Essentials?

Thaw the turkey.

According to Chef Chris Nirschel with NY Catering Service, you need to make sure your turkey is fully thawed before you begin to brine it, “Which can take several days in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly.”

The USDA says a general rule of thumb when thawing your turkey in the refrigerator is about 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird. For larger turkeys around 20 pounds, you’re potentially looking at somewhere around 5 days of thawing!

RELATED: 5 Major Grocery Chains Selling the Cheapest Turkeys

Find the right container for a large volume of brine.

A major component to consider when you’re getting ready to brine your turkey is making sure you have the right container for it. Because the brining process takes a bit of time, you’ll need a container that is not only big enough for your turkey but small enough to fit into your refrigerator.

Your turkey should be completely covered with the brine solution, says Michael Handal, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, so you’ll either need a 10-quart pot with tall sides, or a brining bag if a large pot won’t fit in your fridge.

How to make a brine.

“You’ll want to make sure whatever you brine your turkey in can fit back into your fridge, as well as make sure your container doesn’t react with your brine solution and leave an off-flavor,” says Heidi Diestel, 4th Generation Farmer at Diestel Family Ranch.

To accomplish this, Chef Thomas Ricci, VP of Culinary Operations at Gobble & Sunbasket says “You can use a turkey bag, or [if you’re using a dry brine,] a large plate loosely tented with aluminum foil before letting [the turkey] rest in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours before cooking.”

A brine is a fairly straightforward cooking technique. All you have to technically do is create a saltwater solution with 1 cup of salt for every gallon of water you use.

While a basic brine solution consists of just salt and water, chefs strongly recommend adding some other elements to amp up the flavor. “Aromatic molecules do get lodged within the turkey tissue between cells, so the more intense the flavorings in your brine, the more those flavors will potentially be imparted to the meat,” says Erin Miller, executive chef and owner of Urban Hearth.

Courtesy of Chef Eric Caron, corporate executive chef for Lombardo’s Hospitality Group

Mix all ingredients in a large container until the salt and sugar are dissolved, then let rest for 24-48 hours. “If your recipe calls for the salt and sugar to be dissolved by heating the brine, make sure the brine has been cooled completely before adding the turkey,” Chef Handal adds.

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