Updated: Jan 10
Brine to Perfection
By: Pam Smith, RDN
Maple Spice Brined Roast Turkey with Wholesome Gravy
Yields: 15 Servings, 1/4 cup each
2 tablespoons canola oil 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (may omit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 cups de-fatted turkey stock, heated (may also use purchased chicken stock), recipe follows
1/4 cup white wine or additional chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Creole seasoning (P.S. Flavor!™ Creole Kitchen or your Creole seasoning of choice)
Kosher Salt and Pepper, to taste
Heat canola oil in a saucepan.
Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in cornstarch until smooth.
Add stock, bay leaf, wine and seasonings. Cook over low heat, stirring, until gravy thickens, about 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaves. Serve with turkey.
1 quart water
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 stalk celery with leaves, sliced
6 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1-2 tsp. salt
Remove the giblets from the bird and wash well.
Boil giblets together with the neck in 1 quart of water with other ingredients.
Strain off broth and refrigerate to allow fat to rise to top and skim off.
Reserve giblets for gravy.
Note: Try to make the day before to allow time to cool and de-fat.
Brining Your Turkey
Brining is the technique of accentuating the taste, texture and moisture level of leaner cuts of meat such as turkey, chicken and pork through prolonged immersion in salted liquid. It doesn’t take much effort, and you’ve probably already got everything you need on hand.
For the most basic brining, you’ll need: A plastic, glass, ceramic or stainless steel (no aluminum) vessel large enough to your meat, and enough brine to cover it. (I use a cooler for a big turkey), Kosher Salt, Apple Cider, Honey, Maple Syrup or Sugar in the Raw and Water.
To figure out how much brine you’ll need, place the meat in the container, and pour in plain water. Measure the water. For every quart, you’ll need to add 1/4 cup kosher salt (or 1/8 cup table salt) and 2 Tbs. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) or brown sugar. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can start experimenting with sweeteners (like molasses, honey and maple syrup), spices, herbs, peppers, garlic, onions, etc. – wherever your culinary creativity takes you. I’ve included two flavorful recipes below.
Pour the brine over the meat, place a heavy plate or bowl atop the meat to keep it submerged, and place in the refrigerator or a cooler below 40°F. Different types and sizes of meat will take more or less time. Start at the lower end of the scale, and turn the meat halfway through. You can always brine more, but you can’t unbrine. You will want to brine a whole turkey overnight, for 6-24 hours. Be sure to pat it dry before roasting or grilling to avoid just steaming the meat.
Here are recipes for two of my favorite brines:
Maple Spice Brine
2 cups kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar in the raw
2 cups Grade B pure maple syrup
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup juniper berries
1 Tbs. whole cloves
1/2 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
24 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 gallon water
Mix all of the brine ingredients together in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and stir the brine to ensure that the salt, sugar, and maple syrup have dissolved.
Let the brine cool, then put it in a large nonreactive container and add the turkey.
Chill for 8-24 hours.
Apple Cider Brine
2 cups kosher salt
12 sprigs fresh rosemary
12 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs. whole dried cloves
2 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 gallons boiling water
1 1/2 gallons ice water
1 quart frozen apple juice concentrate, preferably organic
1 pint natural apple cider vinegar
Make the brine. Stir the kosher salt, the rosemary sprigs, the crushed garlic, the whole cloves and the peppercorns into the boiling water and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.
Stir in the ice water and the frozen juice concentrate and cider, and continue stirring until the ice has melted.
Pour the cold brine over the turkey and cover the container or the cooler.
Allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 6 to 24 hours. Make sure the turkey stays cold during the entire brining time.