After a short explanation and raving review, she inspired me to experiment with my organic, grass fed turkey. Having never done it before, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but was up for the challenge. After all, isn’t that what cooking Thanksgiving dinner is all about – spending sacred time in the kitchen, collaborating with family and friends on recipes, celebrating the harvest, and gracefully experimenting with new ideas?
It blew me away – the result was phenomenal. In all my life, my mouth had never experienced such a juicy, flavorful turkey. In my mind, it forever changed the potential for greatness with roasting a turkey, which on Thanksgiving is traditionally quite a ritual. Gone are the days of dry, tasteless turkey doused in gravy. Now, gravy is now optional…..
Before I get carried away with more details on how to brine your turkey, let’s talk for a second about what brining means. Brining is simply soaking a raw turkey or chicken in a solution of salt and other spices. It typically infuses the bird with great flavor while also keeping the lean meat from losing it’s moisture during the long roasting process. The salt is what makes this work – it tenderizes the meat allowing for extra water and flavor to be trapped by the protein while brining, and then it retains that moisture while cooking the turkey or chicken.
Since salt is not optional, rather it is the key ingredient in the brine, if you are worried about sodium, try substituting Real or Celtic sea salt instead of traditional table salt. Table salt is made up of a type of sodium (sodium chloride) that is not found naturally in the body, which is why we have trouble processing it. Real sea salt doesn’t contribute to high blood pressure like table salt does.
By the way, if you decide you want to try brining, don’t buy pre-brined bird because they will be loaded another form of sodium, sodium nitrate, which is a known carcinogen.
Worried about how you will be able to marinate a ten plus pound bird? You will want to get a brining bag. (I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.) This is crticial if you get wigged out by the possibility of bacteria from a raw bird in your kitchen. To keep it cool during the brining process, I set my turkey in the over sized bag with the brine solution in a cooler with ice. Depending on the size of turkey it may fit in your fridge in the bag or in a large pot. You can even use one of your refrigerator drawers instead of the bag if that doesn’t gross you out!
To brine or not to brine, that is the question. My brine recipe does not use sugar unlike many other recipes. The sea salt does the trick without needing sugar. Besides, it tastes simply fabulous without it, trust me! . What’s your favorite way to make Thanksgiving turkey? Share by leaving me a comment below
Herb Apple Cider Turkey Brine
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup Real or Celtic sea salt
1 gallon or more water
1 bunch fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup apple cider vinegar
- Bring 4 cups of water to a simmering boil. Add salt. Stir until the salt has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat. Stir in 8 cups cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. The brine is ready to be used. Let cool if needed before pouring over raw thawed turkey.
- Remove any giblets or neck from the cavity of the turkey. Place turkey in the brine bag or pot, and pour brine mixture over it. Add additional water until the turkey is completely submerged in liquid. Allow turkey to marinate in the brine for at least twelve hours and up to two days while refrigerated. Rinse well before roasting.