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The Basic Brine

Woodside Executive Chef, Michael Giampetruzzi shares his thoughts on why everyone should be brining their Thanksgiving bird and his favorite way to create a show stopping turkey for any occasion.

To brine or not to brine that is the question. The simple answer is yes, you should, and here is why.

Although a labor of love, and another step in what might be a hectic day (let’s be honest…week) of cooking, brining your turkey helps lock in moisture and lends flavor through the entire bird — not just on the outside. With a good brine, no additional seasoning is necessary (however, I am a sucker for liberally coating the bird with a nice layer of herbed butter or bacon fat). This process will add even more flavor and create an amazingly juicy turkey that everyone will be talking about for years to come. Remember, the possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to get creative and find the best brine for you.

Here is what you will need:

  • ½ gallon of ice water – if you are feeling really creative substitute for cold vegetable or chicken broth
  • ½ gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 TBSP allspice
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 TSP crushed red pepper
  • 1 TBSP whole peppercorns
  • Zest of 2 oranges

How to Brine:

  1. Place the salt and half gallon of water in a pot. Bring to a simmer and stir until salt is dissolved. Add all of your seasonings and simmer for five minutes. This will help extract the flavors and permeate the brine. Remove from heat and combine with the ½ gallon of ice water or refrigerated broth of your choosing. This will cool your brine to a safe temperature.
  2. Place your turkey in a pot or dish large enough to completely cover your turkey with the brine. Store in refrigerator for at least twenty four hours. (You may brine for up to three days for turkeys over fifteen pounds).
  3. When finished, allow your turkey to completely dry before cooking, at least twelve to twenty four hours. This will allow the skin to become crispier when cooking.

Never cooked a turkey before? No problem. After you have completed the brining process cook the turkey low and slow until an internal temperature of 155 degrees is reached. Then, allow to the turkey to rest for 45 minutes uncovered before carving. This resting time will allow your turkey to continue cooking without direct heat to bring your turkey to 165 degrees. If this is not achieved after resting – place it back in a warm oven until you reach that temperature. Enjoy!

This recipe is based off a thirteen to fifteen pound turkey. You may have to scale ingredients and times up or down depending on size. 




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