How to brine turkey
Brining is a technique for creating an extra juicy and flavorful experience. You will want to brine your turkey prior to cooking. Brining is not needed for products that already have a salt solution added. There are 2 types of brining: wet and dry. Both brining processes allow the seasoning (salt) to penetrate the meat, add flavor, and retain moisture inside the meat.
Wet Brining vs. Dry Brining
Wet brining uses a solution combining water with salt and other flavorings (herbs, spices, citrus, or sugar, for example). The turkey is submerged into the brine and placed in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. The process allows the seasoning, flavoring, and moisture to penetrate the meat.
Dry brining is seasoning (salting) the turkey and then letting the dry seasoning mixture penetrate into the meat for 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator. The salt in the seasoning draws the moisture out of the meat, and then the meat pulls the seasoned moisture back in. You can leave the meat uncovered so the air dries out the skin — this will help you achieve a crispier skin during the cooking process.
Preparing a Wet Brine Solution
A basic ratio is for every quart of water, add 4 tablespoons of kosher salt, and then seasonings or flavorings of your choice. It is best to use hot water to help the salt dissolve, and then chill it down before submerging the turkey. You can also use half the amount of hot water, and then add the other half with ice to chill the brine quicker.
Wet Brining Process
You will need a container large enough to fully submerge the turkey. Submerge the turkey into the brine, and then place it in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. The process allows the seasoning, flavoring, and moisture to penetrate the meat. After the meat is done brining you will want to pat the turkey dry with some towels before applying the topical seasoning. Discard the brine after the meat has been removed.
Preparing a Dry Brining Rub
For a whole turkey (14-16 pounds), mix 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 1.5 teaspoons dried herbs (such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or a blend) and 3/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
For the Best Results When Dry Brining
Any turkey can be dry-brined. However, whole turkeys, turkey thighs, drumsticks, split breasts, and bone-in turkey breasts are ideal.
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