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Two Methods for Brining

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I offer two methods for brining: One for the cook who has either a second refrigerator or the room to take 1 or 2 shelves out of the refrigerator in order to allow a tall stockpot or container to fit upright in it, and another for the home cook who has limited refrigerator space. Ideally, make the brine solution on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Brine your turkey beginning on Tuesday or Tuesday night. Remove it from the brine solution on Wednesday or Wednesday night. Let it rest, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight. Then, it’s ready to roast on Thanksgiving Day.

NotesPlastic oven bags (made by Reynolds) are found with other food storage bags at supermarkets. Buy the turkey-size bags. They are food-serve, plus they are big, strong, tear-resistant, and come with twist ties. Do not use plastic garbage bags, as they are not intended for food storage. I use a double thickness of bags as a precautionary measure against leakage. For the same reason, I place the bagged turkey in a roasting pan.

CostModerate

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Type of Dishmarinades

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To Brine in a Pot or Container:

  2. This method involves brining the turkey in a large stockpot or a sterilized, leak-proof container such as a bucket or restaurant-grade storage container. The pot or container needs to stand upright in the refrigerator, which usually requires removing one or two refrigerator shelves.

  3. Place the turkey in the stockpot or container, standing it upright or on its side, however it fits best. Pour the brine over the bird, then add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Cover the container with a lid, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 or up to 24 hours.

  4. Remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the brine and any cured herbs or spices remaining on the bird. (Discard the oranges and ginger if using the Apple Cider Brine.) Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey in a large bowl or roasting pan and refrigerate, unwrapped, for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. This shows the skin of the turkey to dry a bit so it is crisp when roasted. The turkey is now ready to be roasted.

  5. To Brine in a Bag:

  6. This method involves brining the bird in turkey oven bags set in a roasting pan. The roasting pan will fit on 1 shelf in the refrigerator, saving critical space.

  7. Nest 1 plastic oven bag inside the other to create a double thickness (see Notes). Place the double bag, mouth open wide and facing up, in the roasting pan.

  8. Fold back the top one-third of the double bag to make a collar (this helps keep the bags open). Place the turkey inside the double bag. Unfold the collar of the double bag and pour the brine over the bird, then add 2 cups of cold water. Draw up the top of the inner bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and secure it closed with a twist tie. Do the same with the outer bag. Turn the package so the turkey is breast side down in the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 12 or up to 24 hours. Turn the turkey 3 or 4 times while it is brining.

  9. Remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the bags, brine, and any cured herbs or spices remaining on the bird. (Discard the oranges and ginger if using the Apple Cider Brine.) Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Piece the turkey back in the roasting pan and refrigerate, unwrapped, for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. This resting period allows the skin of the turkey to dry a bit so it is crisp when roasted. The turkey is now ready to be roasted.

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