What's a good turkey brine recipe and technique?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by watermelonslim, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    So what's the best turkey brine for thanksgiving? Abs what's the best technique?

    I usually brine for 12 to 24 hours, but I've been reading a few sites that say to brine for a few days.

    I wish I had an extra fridge for this. I meant to get one but never got around to it (again). Maybe next year. Looks like it's coolers and ice again this year.
  2. How do you keep it from getting too salty?

    I tried brining for a bit less than 12 hours using 1 gallon water and 1 cup salt. The skin had to be completely thrown away as it was far too salty. The meat was quite juicy and tender - not dry at all.
  3. Perhaps I have a higher tolerance for salt. I consider the Slaughterhouse Brine a very mild brine. Turkey skin in my smoker has never turned out well for me. If I were going for good turkey skin my smoker would be my worst choice.   
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Controlling the Salt in brine is important. I have used many different formulations and found my salt sensitive family will tolerate a brine with no more than 1/2C Kosher Salt or 1/4C Table or Fine Sea Salt per Gallon of water in my brine. I have used the one below for over twenty years at home and in several Restaurants and have never gotten a Salty Turkey complaint. As far as salty skin goes, a rinse or 15 minute soak in fresh water helps....AND...Please don't use ANY Commercially made Rub on that Turkey! They are loaded with Salt and are the #1 reason people complain their Brined Turkey and Skin are too Salty. Make your own Rub and leave the Salt out.

    If your Smoker will not get up to 325*F you will never get crispy skin on a smoked bird of any kind...This is not the end of the wonderful world of Crispy Turkey Skin! All you need to do is make sure you give the bird a 12-24 hour rest on a rack over a drip pan in the Refer for the skin to dry. Next Smoke the Turkey at whatever temp below 300*F your smoker will do. When the Internal Temp of the Turkey hits 150*F place the bird in a Pre-heated 425*F oven until the final IT of 165*F is hit and give the bird a rest on the counter, No Foil, while you finish making Gravy, etc. Yes this is an extra step and you need to time things so all the sides are out of the oven but this is a lot better than giving up the best part of any bird...Nice Brown Crispy Skin!

    Families Favorite Brine

    1/2C Kosher Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran. Garlic

    2T Gran. Onion

    2T Dry Thyme

    2T Black Pepper

    1C Vinegar (Any)

    1-11/2Gal Cold Water to cover Chix

    1/2C Brown Sugar, Optional

    1T Red Pepper Flake Optional

    Mix well and Soak the Bird over night or up to 24 Hours.

    Remove the Chix, rinse if desired and pat dry with paper towels.

    Place in an open container in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours for the Skin to dry.

    This will give a crispier skin when Smokng or Roasting...

    Bubba Chix Rub

    1/2C Raw Sugar

    2T Paprika (I use Smoked if I'm just Grilling)

    1T Cayenne

    1T Gran. Garlic

    1T Gran. Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper

    1tsp Wht Pepper

    1tsp Allspice

    1tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning or Thyme

    Mix well and rub on Oil or Butter coated Chicken.

    Reduce Cayenne to 1teaspoon if less heat is desired.

    You can also mix the rub with Bacon Grease or Butter and rub it on and under the skin...
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you weigh the salt per pound of water and meat combined, starting with 2% for instance....  

    Different salts have different weights per volume...  80 grams is about 2% in one gallon.....  Use DiggingDogFarm calculator for that..... weight of the bird plus weight of the water.... 2% salt and see how you like it.... adjust accordingly after a taste test for next time....  

    Probably 2-3 days brining in a refer will be required for the equilibrium brine to be complete (as Pops suggests in his recipe)....  

    Rinse the skin as JJ suggests to remove the excess salt from the skin...  add garlic, onions, celery  etc to the brine for more flavor as JJ does in his brine... 
  6. JJ couple of questions. Is it necessary to allow dry time if if 325 is not a problem, and also can you elaborate on the internal temp. Ive seen 165 in the breast and other say 165 in the breast and 175 in the thigh.  Should the thigh cook faster. Last time I took the breast to 165 and didnt take the thigh reading. 
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The Drying time will give a Crispier Skin and better Color, it's a good idea. If you are in a hurry, 60 minutes in front of a Fan will help get it done but you should smoke at the 325 temp or for guys that can't get their smoker that high the bird should be no bigger than 14Lb. In general the Breast will hit 165*F and the Thighs will be 175*F about the same time, specially if you don't Truss or tie the Legs together...JJ
  8. Thanks, so generally speaking, as long as the breast is 165 everything else should be fine as far as being sufficiently cooked?
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes. If the Thighs are still a bit low for your taste, you can remove them and put them back in or cover the breast with Foil and give the bird some more time...JJ
  10. Thanks for the great info JJ! I made your simple and concise instructions above into an article (giving you full credit!) so I could link to it on FB and Twitter!
  11. So you would recommend NOT trussing or tying the legs together of the bird in order to reach the desired temp at the same time?  I'm smoking my first turkey Thursday and I was debating on whether or not I should tie the legs together.

  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Trussing a bird like Chicken is important because the thighs protect a portion of the breast meat where it is thinnest. This is less of an issue with the larger, thick breast of turkeys and the legs being more spread apart allows better heat contact to the inner thighs...JJ

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