There are many ways to confront a too-dry turkey. Cranberry sauce. Gravy. Serving ham instead. But this Thanksgiving, why not confront the problem head on and brine the bird to ensure a perfectly moist main dish?
Brining a turkey is fairly easy, as long as you have the space to do it. A basic brine involves salt, water and herbs, but we are partial to a beer-based brine. Below are three brining recipes to ensure your turkey is a winner this Thanksgiving.
Martha Stewart's Turkey Brine: For a 20-pound bird, bring 1 quart water, 1 1/2 cups coarse salt, six bay leaves, 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries, 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, and 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds to a simmer. Stir until salt has dissolved, then let cool for five minutes.
Place the turkey in a 5-gallon container lined with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Add salt mixture, 6 quarts of water, six garlic cloves, some white wine and 1 bunch fresh thyme. Tie the bag shut and refrigerate for 24 hours. You can also store it inside a cooler surrounded with ice.
Ree Drummond's Favorite Turkey Brine: Bring water, cider, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, orange strips and rosemary leaves to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and sugar until they dissolve. Allow to cool completely and then place into the fridge until its cold. Submerge an uncooked, fresh turkey in the chilled brine solution and then refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you're ready to roast the turkey, submerge the turkey in fresh, cold water to remove excess salt. It's now ready to be cooked.
Food and Wine's Roasted Beer-Brined Turkey: This turkey gets its flavor from mustard seeds, peppercorns and bay leaves that have been toasted until fragrant. Brown sugar and salt are then added for an extra kick. Combine spices with 4 cups of water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Once cooled, add onions, bacon, Guinness and 16 cups of cold water to the pot. The turkey goes into the brine breast side down. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Still confused about whether or how to brine your bird? Check out this video from Food Network's Alton Brown. His instructions are always simple and easy to follow: