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Nov 11

There’s a joke that Cook’s Illustrated should actually be called “Brining Illustrated” because they are such evangelists of this technique for preparing poultry. I am an apostle myself. Here is my brining recipe, adapted from their original. But, first, a few other thoughts on brining.

Brining bags

I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to find brining bags at our local market for $8 each. Eight bucks! You are JOKING?! Williams-Sonoma has brining bags ($16 for four), which seemed a bit more reasonable. Bed, Bath and Beyond has one for $5. But, again, Cook’s Illustrated has an even better idea: Zip Lock’s “Big Bags.”

Although designed for storing sweaters and pillows, Ziploc Big Bags XL ($5.79 for four) are foodsafe and, at 2 feet by 1.7 feet, they’re the perfect size for turkey brining. In addition, the flat bottom keeps the bag steady during filling, and a handle provides a tighter grip on the slippery plastic.

At Drugstore.com you can get four for $6.79.

NOTE: DO NOT BRINE YOUR TURKEY IN A GARBAGE BAG. It’s not food safe.

Brining Kits

I suppose if you’re totally uncoordinated you can buy a pre-packaged brining kit for $10 at Amazon. Or for $13 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or for $18 at Williams-Sonoma. Or you can make it at home for a few cents. Whatever. By the way, the Williams-Sonoma one has some interesting ingredients: coarse dried apples, juniper berries, lemon peel, Spanish rosemary and other herbs, plus large black tellicherry, sweet Indian green and Madagascar pink peppercorns. I may consider adding some of these to my homemade brine.

Brining Recipe

You can brine up to 24 hours. After that the meat gets mealy. If you’re roasting a kosher or self-basting turkey, do not brine it; it already contains sodium.This is for a 12-hour brine.

1/2 cup of salt per gallon of cold water (two gallons of water is usually enough)

4-6 whole allspice, smashed

3-4 large garlic cloves, smashed with the skins still on

3-4 whole cloves

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

10 whole peppercorns, smashed


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