The concept of brining includes additions such as herbs and spices to your food while enhancing its natural flavor! When it comes to creating the perfect turkey dinner, the key is in your brine. Properly brining your food not only allows you to preserve the original flavor, but it also enhances it! And, what better recipe to follow than the Alton Brown Turkey Brine!
If you’re unfamiliar with the works of Alton Brown, he is American chef and television personality. His series “Good Eats” aired on The Food Network over 30 years ago and is currently still running! Fun fact: he has over 2,000 cookbooks in his office library! So, if there’s anyone you should trust to give you the perfect turkey brine, it’s him!
What You Will Need
Being that Alton Brown is a pro chef, he knows exactly what he is doing! The ingredients for the Alton Brown Turkey Brine are broken down into three separate categories: ingredients, brine, and aromatic. The ingredients from each section piece together the perfect (and delicious) puzzle! The only “ingredient” that you will need as a base is the turkey! The rest of the components make up the brine and enhance other seasons and spices!
For the brine you will need:
- A cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1-gallon vegetable stock
- A tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- A gallon of heavily iced water
And, for the aromatic portion you will need:
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup of water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Canola oil
Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, it’s time to get started on the prep work! Although it only takes 15 minutes to prepare, some things need to be pre-made beforehand. For example, it takes 8 to 16 hours to fully brine the turkey! As a result of this, make sure you leave yourself enough time to get everything done (and maybe an extra few minutes to be safe). And make sure you leave enough time to cook!
As I just mentioned, several of the elements of the recipe require to be pre-made. This brine needs to be prepared 2 or 3 days before the day you are planning on roasting the turkey! This allows all of the ingredients to sit and blend to give the best results.
The directions are as followed:
- Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
- Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
- Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat: Combine the brine, water, and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once halfway through brining.
- 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.
- Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
- Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into the 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.
One of the best things about this recipe is that you can really customize it to your liking! Whether you want to use homemade stock or use organic ingredients, it can be done!