The Secret to Super-Moist, Juicy Turkey

My turkey triumph came a few years back after reading a newspaper article on brining. It assured me that soaking the raw turkey in a bath of salty water, was THE way to ensure your turkey comes out moist and juicy from the oven. And, it can reduce cooking time by up to a half hour for a 12-pound bird. The Cooking for Engineers blog has a great explanation about how it actually works.

There’s debate as to whether a brined turkey tastes better and it’s effects on the gravy.

But I have to say, it’s one of the best turkeys I’ve had (next to my mom’s, of course).

A couple things to remember before trying this, though: If you’re going to brine, don’t buy a Kosher or self-basting turkey or it’ll end up too salty. Also, make sure you’re going to have enough room in the refrigerator and that the weight won’t bust one of your shelves.

Below is a basic brine recipe. Some prefer to use stock instead of some water (like a recent Alton Brown recipe , but you’ll have to reduce the amount of salt to make up for what’s in the stock. It’s really pretty flexible.

Basic Brine
1 cup of kosher salt (reduce to about 1/2 cup if using table salt)
1/2 cup of sugar (optional)
ice cubes
1 gallon of water

Boil about two quarts of the water with the salt, sugar and seasonings, just enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add ice cubes to cool the mix down to 35-degrees and mix it with the remaining water in a large stock pot or plastic bucket.

Put in turkey, breast-side down. Make sure it is completely immersed.

Put in refrigerator for 8-24 hours. The longer it stays in the brine, the saltier the meat will become.

Once you’re ready to cook the bird, rinse off the brine, pat dry and prepare the turkey as normal.

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