Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like a fragrant, delicious turkey fresh out of the oven. But that free-range, organic bird you picked up at the store won’t automatically turn into the tender, flavorful stuff holiday dreams are made of if you just throw it in a roasting pan and cross your fingers. It takes strategy. And there’s one particular strategy we think sets your Thanksgiving bird up for serious success: brining.
Cooking sucks the moisture right out of meat. But brining helps hold those precious juices in so your turkey doesn’t come out of the oven looking (and tasting) like a novelty rubber chicken. What is brining, exactly? Well, there are two types: dry brining and wet brining. Let's take a look at each.
Dry Brining vs. Wet Brining
Both dry brining and wet brining rely on the same special ingredient to lock in moisture— salt. That's because salt has an awesome ability to draw the moisture in meat to the surface, mix with that moisture, and then reabsorb into the meat for an end result that’s well-seasoned and mouthwatering.
There is one big difference between wet and dry brining, though (and honestly, it’s pretty easy to guess based on their names)— one involves water and the other doesn’t. In a dry brine, you use a dry salt rub to keep your meat flavorful and juicy. In a wet brine, you use a saltwater solution. Which one’s better?
They both have their perks. A dry brine is a bit easier since it just involves dry ingredients and doesn’t take up as much space in your fridge (for a wet brine, you have to soak your turkey in a big pot in the fridge for 16 to 24 hours). But when it comes to producing tender, melt-in-your-mouth turkey meat, there’s nothing like a wet brine, since the meat soaks up some of the brining water. Which one’s right for you?
If you have the fridge space (or have time for a quick fridge purge), we recommend giving this wet brine recipe a try:
FALL TURKEY BRINE
1 ½ gallons of water
½ gallon of apple cider
1 ½ cup Real Salt Kosher Salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
5 bay leaves
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 sprigs of rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar dissolve. Allow the brine to cool completely (you can add some ice cubes to help this cool faster). Place your uncooked turkey in the chilled brine solution, then refrigerate for 16-24 hours. When you're ready to cook your turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse well. Discard your brine, pat your turkey dry and cook according to your preferred method. The brine will deliver a wonderful flavor throughout all that tender turkey meat. Hope you enjoy!
You may have noticed that our wet brine recipe calls for kosher salt. That’s because kosher has a larger grain size that’s fantastic for drawing out the moisture in meat. Pick up a bag of Real Salt Kosher today so you’re ready to say, “Bring on the brining” just in time for Turkey Day.