I've tried many brine concoctions for my holiday birds, and I've settled on this one, at least for now. Give it a try and drop me a line to tell me what you think. This recipe works very well for both smoking or traditional roasting, and with Thanksgiving just days away, there's not really a better time to post it.
- 1 1/2 gal Ice water (lots of ice)
- 1/2 gal Hot tap water
- 2 cups Dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning (available in most grocery stores)
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice (Asian section of most grocery stores -- I like the Sun Luck brand)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Extra ice as needed
- Get a clean food-safe five-gallon bucket, wash it, then sanitized it with a gallon of water and a capful of bleach.
- Make the ice water in the bucket.
- Bring the tap water to a boil in a stock pot or large pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt, sugar, citrus juice and all of the seasonings.
- Let the seasoning mixture sit in the pan, stirring occasionally, until all of the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Add the water and seasoning mixture to the ice water in the bucket.
- Gently submerge the turkey in the brine, breast-side-down. Oh, and make sure you've removed both pouches of innards.
- Note: It must be completely submerged, so add more ice and water if necessary. If the turkey tends to float, you can seal a rock in a zip-top bag and stuff it in the cavity.
- Set the bucket in the coldest place you can find (I put mine outside or in the garage), cover with foil, wrap with a sleeping bag or blankets, and let sit at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
- Caution: It's critical that the brine be kept at or under 40º throughout the entire brining process, so check the ice and add more as needed.
- An hour before you're ready to cook the turkey, lift it gently and slowly from the brine, allowing it to drain completely. I turn it over just to make sure.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
- Rub the skin with canola oil and roast or smoke as desired.
P.S. This recipe and many others can be found on my blog