Brined Turkey

I like to have a turkey around the holidays, as well as one in the summer. I'm not really sure why I want one in the summer when it's already so hot outside, but I always do. I think from now on, since I'm currently only feeding two (as opposed to previously, when I never knew how many people would be sitting at my table on any given night), I'll probably just buy a small breast for myself and a couple legs for P. Which should give us a few days of turkey without getting tired of it. Anyway, this is the first time I've brined one. I looked at several recipes until I kind of got the gist of how brining works. This is what I wound up deciding on. Hope you enjoy!


10 bay leaves
1 1/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 large slices dried galangal
5 dried lemons/limes (omani)
2 tablespoons each: black peppercorns, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, coriander seeds
1 dried chile pod (I used chile arbol, but you should use whatever you have on hand)
4 litres water, divided

Combine all the spices and 2 litres of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add remaining water and simmer 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to come up to room temperature before refrigerating. Chill.

Turkey in Brine:

Once your turkey is thawed (or, whenever your brine is done cooling if you have a fresh turkey), wash the inside and outside of the turkey, removing and necks and bits that may be in there (I save the neck for stock but cook the rest for Francis*). Put it, breast side down in a 5-gallon bucket (some people recommend using those enormous Ziplock bags, but I'm using a bucket) or other large container. Pour in brine, and then continue to add ice water until the turkey is completely submerged. Cover or otherwise close your container. If you have room in your fridge, stuff it in there for approximately 1 hour per pound of turkey weight. If you don't have the ability to put it in your fridge (I don't), put the bucket/container in a cooler, and fill the cooler with ice. Half-way through the brining time (my turkey is a 16 pounder, so it'll be in there a while), turn the turkey over. Refill ice in cooler as needed.

Roasting Turkey:

For this time, I'm trying the Alton Brown method, but will repeat his instructions here for those of you who don't want to click the link.

"Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels."

Stuff the turkey with whatever you like. I'm a huge orange cut into eighths.

"Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F**. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving."

*For Francis, I cook the gizzard, heart and liver like this: In a small non-stick pan, fry lightly to sear the outside. Then add water to almost cover and 2-3 cubes of chicken collagen (you can skip this if you're not the type to save these random things) and simmer until the water is mostly gone. Serve on top of or mixed in with your normal puppy chow.

** Cook it longer than this. I promise you, it's really annoying to have to put it back in the oven once you started carving it because it's not cooked through. Really, really annoying. So annoying it makes me think that maybe I should just make turkeys the way I always have before. However, it was so moist and delicious I'll just cook it longer from now on, instead of taking it out at that time.


  1. I hope you enjoyed your summer 4th of July turkey :-). You have incredible energy. I hope we get to meet someday. Have a wonderful holiday...Mary

  2. What is Kosher Salt? I asked a Jewish friend of mine who is strictly kosher and he didn't know. He buys his salt from the supermarket.

  3. Mary,

    It's been wonderful, though I'll admit the clean-up was something of a nightmare. I have to say, brining really does make the turkeys more moist and delicious. I hope we meet someday too! Enjoy the holiday.


    Kosher salt is just larger flake salt. It's not, in and of itself kosher (all salt is kosher by definition), but the larger flake makes it better for extracting the blood from meat (which is necessary to make it kosher - it's the same for halal meat to have no blood, yes?) because it doesn't dissolve as fast. Also in the States, kosher salt generally doens't have any additives, like iodine. Apparently in the UK, it's called "koshering salt" instead of kosher salt.

    But yes, I buy my salt (kosher salt, table salt, etc) from the grocery store. I just find the larger flakes better for cooking with.

  4. Hey Allie - that's odd, I have never had to cook a bird longer and O brine every Turkey I cook. Do you have a good meat thermometer? I tend to cook giant birds and I have never had to extend the cooking time beyond Alton's recommendation.

    Glad the bird was great - Brining is the only way I will ever cook them.

    BTW - I use a herb butter rub under the skin before applying the canola oil and it makes the bird even MORE moist and delicious and buttery good!

  5. I'm so impressed by your summer turkey project! Awesome!

  6. Dave,

    I've got a good thermometer, though it's possible I just stuck the thermometer in the wrong spot. I just gave it another 30 minutes or so, then let it rest again and it was just fine. Next time I'll try the butter rub too!


    Thanks! It was the perfect idea for not cooking for a bit, while I overworked myself during the last bits of summer vacation I had remaining!


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