Jorden's Favorite Brine Recipe

Perfect for your holiday turkey

Urbana, IL - Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching.


If you haven't started to prep your turkey for cooking now is the time to get on it.
Here to share a "brine" recipe in the ciKitchen..
Guest Chef Jorden Brotherton, assistant professor at the U of I Hospitality Management.

Jorden’s Favorite Brine – Roasted Turkey

1 fresh (not frozen) turkey 12-15 pounds
2 Gallons Cold Water
1.5 Cups Kosher Salt
1.5 Cups Brown Sugar (Lightly packed)
1 Tbsp Ground Rosemary
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
3-4 Whole Bay Leaves
Zest of 1 Medium Orange
Zest of 1 Medium Lemon

Directions: Add 1 gallon of water to a large pot and place on high heat. Add kosher salt, brown sugar, ground rosemary, minced garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, orange zest, and lemon zest into the pot. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally to ensure salt and sugar have completely dissolved. After 10 minutes, remove the pot from heat. Add the 2nd gallon of water (and perhaps a few ice cubes) to the pot and stir to bring the temperature of the mixture down. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature or below. This is your brine.

Remove your fresh turkey from its packaging and place it in a vessel that will allow it to be fully submerged in the 2 gallons of brine mixture without spilling. I personally recommend using a plastic ‘Brine Bag’ since it allows for easier storage of the turkey in a refrigerator during the brining process. Another option is a thoroughly cleaned and sanitized 5 gallon bucket that can commonly be found at hardware stores. Once the turkey is in the brine bag, bucket, or other vessel, place the turkey in a refrigerator and allow it to ‘brine’ for 24-48 hours. The full 48 hours is preferred if you have the time.

After the turkey has soaked in the brining solution for the 24-48 hour timeframe, remove the bird from the brining solution. You can now discard your brining solution by dumping it down a drain or garbage disposal. Soak the brined bird in fresh cold water for approximately 15 minutes to remove any excess salt or sugar that may be concentrated in or around the skin. Once thoroughly rinsed, remove the bird from its cold water bath, pat it dry with paper towels (this ensures the skin will brown while in the oven), and cook the turkey using your favorite roasting method. If you don’t have a preferred roasting method, I would recommend placing the bird breast side down in a roasting pan, roasting it in a 400*F oven until the thickest part of the bird reaches an internal temperature of 165*F; or approximately 90 minutes. (Hint: Flip the bird halfway through the cooking process for the best results). Once the bird has reached 165*F internally, remove it from the oven, ‘tent’ it with aluminum foil, and allow it to ‘rest’ for 30 minutes before carving.

The brine allows for the lean meat in the turkey to absorb moisture and flavor internally before the cooking process ever begins. Brining is a very simple way to (almost) guarantee a perfect turkey for a holiday meal.
 


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