Tonight I’m brining a turkey. For lunch tomorrow. OK. I’ll admit that I have never ever brined a turkey before and to the best of my knowledge have never even eaten a brined turkey. I do recall a neighbour brining a turkey last Christmas Eve and remember thinking what a novel idea. Apparently it’s a popular American technique. Soak a turkey in a brining solution prior to roasting. A sure fire way to add moisture and flavour, and keep the breast from drying out during baking. I’m up for it and hope my guests are too.
Fortunately it’s a laid back gathering – turkey, salads and fresh baguettes. I’m praying that the turkey doesn’t end up a salty, sodden mess. I’m filling the brined turkey with an apple, sage and caramelised onion stuffing so have decided to use an apple cider and spice brining solution.
Apple Cider and Spice Brine
6 – 7 kg turkey
6 cups (1.5 litres) apple cider
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 large apples, roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon peppercorns
6-8 star anise
2-3 cinnamon quills
3 bay leaves
6-8 sprigs thyme
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups (1 litre) water
COMBINE all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover. Allow to cool completely. Pour into a large brining bag or pot.
PLACE uncooked turkey breast side down in brining solution. Refrigerate overnight, for about 10 – 16 hours. If the brine doesn’t cover the turkey completely, turn the bird half way through the soaking period.
WHEN ready to roast turkey. Remove from brine and submerge in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt. Remove from water. Pat dry with paper towels.
PREPARE according to your normal roasting method.