The first year I brined my Thanksgiving turkey, it was something of a disaster. I didn't plan ahead well as to what I was going to brine my turkey in and so ended up using a tall, blue plastic garbage can that I had stashed away in my hall closet (I scrubbed it well before committing any edibles to it).
I started out by pouring my brining liquid into it and then plopping my turkey in. Of course there was too much liquid, so I had a flood of brine pour out all over my kitchen floor. I vividly remember standing there, bailing out the brine with a small sauce pot. Then, after I had cleared a space in my fridge for brining turkey, the weight was too much for my plastic fridge shelf, and I ended up cracking the bottom shelf. I ended up lining the shelf with a wooden cutting board which seemed to give it enough support and the refrigerator didn't fall apart overnight.
Thankfully, it was all worth it in the end, because I ended up with tasty, juicy bird that all my guests enjoyed. That taste has kept me brining and happily I've gotten better at it through trial and error. I've learned to use double layers of the large zip top bags (both Glad and Ziploc make them) that are designed for storing sweaters as the brining vessel. I've also gotten the brine recipe down to a science and you can find it after the jump.
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black pepper corns
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Dissolve brine in 2 quarts of boiling water. Once it is dissolved, add in 1-2 quarts more water (depending on the size of your bird). Place your turkey in a large Ziploc storage bag (one of the big ones designed for holding sweaters). When the brine is cool, pour over bird (you can add a bunch of ice cubes to speed this process).
Let bird sit in brine for 12-24 hours. Remove, rinse and roast normally.
Watch how to brine a turkey step-by-step from the Culinary Institute of America for more tips on brining the perfect bird.
Become a fan of Slashfood on Facebook and follow us Twitter.