Cider and Orange Turkey Brine
Why Brine a Turkey?
Brining a turkey, simply put, is marinating a turkey in a salt water solution, which can include juices, herbs, and spices. If you've never brined a turkey before, chances are you fall into one of two camps: you might have heard that you should brine a turkey, but don't know why; or, you have never heard of brining a turkey. Brining is normally done for vary lean meat, such as turkey to keep moist and tender.
If you've made a typical commercial turkey, chances are it was already brined at the factory. That is what's usually behind the "self-basting" turkey claims that create moist turkeys for your holiday season. Problem is, they usually add more than just salt water to the concoction. The extra chemicals they add takes a wonderful meal and makes it not so great.
That being said, if you buy a fresh or organic turkey -- or if you're a lucky hunter and bring home a wild turkey -- you need to brine the turkey so it remains moist and flavorful. The good news is you can add all sorts of juices, herbs, and spices to make your turkey taste terrific.
What Goes Into a Brine?
A brine consists of salt and water. The type of salt is very important because too fine a grain and you're likely to over salt the meat.You should use Kosher salt because it has the right consistency. Use 1 1/2 cups of salt in enough liquid to thoroughly cover the turkey. Marinate the turkey overnight or no more than 15 hours. The reason is you can over brine which will make for a very salty bird (I learned this one from experience). There are brining bags available for brining turkey, so choose one that is sturdy and you won't go wrong.
You can add spices, different types of juice, herbs, and garlic to your turkey. Remember that the turkey will take on some of the flavor of whatever you add to the brine. I came up with the brine in this recipe trying different juices and flavors.
- 2 Quarts Spiced Cider
- 1 Cup Orange Juice
- 10 cloves Garlic
- 8 Bay Leaves
- 4 Sprigs Rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- Water to cover turkey
- 1 Turkey
- Put defrosted turkey in bucket or other container with brining bag.
- Mix all ingredients and pour over turkey. Be sure turkey is submerged under water. Close brining bag.
- Put turkey in the refrigerator and allow turkey to soak 12 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roast the turkey 20 minutes per pound. Baste often.
- Remove from oven when the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let sit 5 minutes.
- Carve and serve.
How to Brine a Turkey
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