To brine or not to brine? Around Thanksgiving the same question always crops up. Do I brine my turkey and, if so, why? For me, the answer is yes. Even though I had one crazy brining experience, I’m still a huge fan (and that’s saying a lot!). Here’s the story, followed by my best Turkey Brining Tips… 

When my husband Greg and I were newlyweds, we invited our parents to come to our (teeny-tiny) apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. The menu was set: Butternut Squash Soup served in Roasted Pumpkins, my grandmother Ita's Stuffing, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and the star of the show, Tom Turkey. 

I decided it would be a good idea to go to a “fresh kill farm,” which was actually more of a storefront. This was Queens after all. When I picked up my turkey, much to my dismay, I saw that the neck and feet were still attached and there was plenty of plucking to do. I was horrified, and Greg (who had partied hard the night before) was so nauseous he refused to come and look at it. 

Once I finished cleaning the turkey, it was time for the amazing brine. But there was a problem: there was no room in our miniature fridge. So, I enlisted Greg’s help to transfer the turkey in the brine to the fire escape. He reluctantly picked up his end (gagging the whole way) and we made it outside. Just as we were about to put Tom on the fire escape, somehow, we lost control, and....

All the brine flew out the window and on to the street below! Thankfully, none of our neighbors were out walking. We didn't lose the turkey, but we did lose all that brine. 

The moral of the story? Go to the store (a real store) and buy a Butterball turkey. As for brining, I still highly recommend it to:

  •  Keep the meat moist
  • Add juiciness
  • Lend a little seasoning before the seasoning

If you’re curious how to do it, I can tell you that after years of practice, I’ve perfected my method. No more fire escape debacles here! This is how to get it done:

Turkey Brining Tips

  1. Heat about 1 quart of water with 1-1 ½ cups of kosher salt, just until the salt has dissolved. For more flavor, you can add orange peels, peppercorns or fresh herbs.
  2. Let the liquid cool completely. 
  3. Clean the turkey and remove the giblets from the cavity. 
  4. Place the bird in a large pot, breast-side down, and pour the brine over it. If it’s not completely submerged, you can use a plate to weigh it down or make more brine to add. 
  5. Transfer the pot to your refrigerator and chill for about 8-24 hours.  

Order your Thanksgiving meal from Deb Miley Dishes! Too busy to plan and cook a holiday dinner? My menus offer the traditional favorites with all the trimmings, as well as contemporary classics and signature dishes. Leave the hard work (and brining) to me, so you can enjoy your day. Contact me to book now.