Adventures in Brining a Turkey

I brined our Thanksgiving turkey, and I was so pleased with it, I had to share. Many had asked how it turned out, so here it is…

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. We decided on a traditional menu of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and creamed corn. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie, harvest pie (apples, pears and cranberries), and a chocolate pie. And of course wine and cordials.

I am actually not a huge turkey fan and had actually suggested early in the planning process to have meatballs. This idea was quickly vetoed. I usually just tolerate turkey by dipping it in gravy or covering it in mashed potatoes. And the leftovers are even worse. I freeze leftover turkey, then throw it out 6 months later when it’s covered in freezer burn, with full knowledge that I will do this at the time of freezing.

Not this time. There were no leftovers this year. I ate them all.

For the brine, I went straight to my favorite source for yummy food: The Pioneer Woman.

This is the recipe I used. It’s got apple juice, orange peels, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and fresh rosemary. I think heaven smells like turkey brine.


My brine doesn’t look as pretty as The Pioneer Woman’s, but it’s the exact same recipe, so I’m going to venture a guess that she’s a superior photographer.

Then I roasted the turkey using this method, which is also a Pioneer Woman recipe and compliments the brine.

I’m going to have to use the M-word to describe the end result, so prepare yourselves…

The turkey was so m-m-m-moist and flavorful. There’s no other way to describe it. A thousand apologies for using the M-word. It had hints of rosemary and orange, but wasn’t piney or orange-y. It was slightly salty and melted right in your mouth.

A couple of notes on my turkey – I roasted 2 turkey breasts instead of a single whole turkey. The method is the same for turkey breast, but I did cut down the amount of time in the brine to about 10 hours. My turkey breasts were pre-brined, meaning they already had a saline injection to make them more, um, juicy. Everything I read about brining indicated that I should NOT brine a pre-brined turkey, but I threw all caution to the wind and did it anyhow. It did not disappoint, but I’ll probably try a natural turkey next time for comparison.

I would highly recommend the brining method for making turkey to anyone who is thinking about it. I will definitely be doing it again!!




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