Easy Turkey Brine
Longtime readers know that this time every year I extol the virtues of making a brine starting with a homemade stock. It is a time-intensive process, although not really hard to do. Not this year. I am going to try something new, I’m going to cut corners, cheat, wuss out…whatever you want to call it. I know, it’s disappointing, but lets look at this as a scientific endeavor. Don’t worry, no actual science will be involved, at least none that we have to be aware of. Calling this “science” just sounds much cooler than saying that I am short on time and the kitchen is too damn small, or that I am just curious if I can make just as tasty of a brine with less work.
For anyone looking for the full-blown original recipe, it is here. It isn’t really all that difficult, and the results are definitely worth it. The goal of this new brine isn’t so much to duplicate the incredible flavors of that brine, but to see if we can come up with something almost as tasty, but with less mess and effort.
As you’ll see, we will not be chopping anything, nothing will be roasted, and there is barely any measuring. This is something so easy that even most of those Food Network pinheads couldn’t screw it up. Here are the ingredients, followed by the meager instructions required.
1 bottle cheap, flabby Chardonnay
16 oz honey
1 carton of chicken stock
1 carton of vegetable stock
2 cups salt
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3 large sage leaves
12 black peppercorns
12 allspice berries
Add all ingredients except the honey to a large stock pot and place over medium heat until simmering. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, but timing this would probably be antithetical to our scientific process here, so just guess at somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. When you think it has been long enough, remove from the heat and pour in the honey. Mix really well, then let cool. Put your turkey in a bag. Place bag in a cooler. Dump a bag of ice in the bag with the turkey and pour your cooled brine over the shivering bird. Twist the top of the bag, and put another bag of ice in the cooler and close the lid for about a day or day and a half, overnight at the very least.
Note that the ingredients say “cartons of stock. It does not say canned broth, or bouillon cubes and water. I use the unsalted Kitchen Basics, it is the best that I have found. This recipe is already enough of a cheat, let’s not meander too far off the straight and narrow culinary path. That way leadeth to madness and Sandra Lee.
One other note; I recommend do not substituting a better wine for the cheap one I suggest using. All of those flabby, buttery flavors work much better in your turkey than when in your glass. Trust me on this one.
Okay, so how did this turn out? Who knows? The damn bird is still in the cooler. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
UPDATE: This brine was fantastic! The turkey was possibly the best that I have ever made in the oven. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had smoked it instead.