Brining The Bird

Just when you thought there were no more holiday recipes you could look at – oops I did it again! As far as I am concerned there is no bird like a brined bird. Brining a bird takes little effort, yet adds the most incredible WOW to your meal. Of coarse, for me, once it is brined, it must be grilled, rotisseried, or BBQ’d. Remember that the larger the bird the longer you can leave it in the brine. One time I brined a chicken for one too many days (I think it was 3) and ended up with a salty chicken.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a container (other than a cooler) that is large enough to hold my turkey.  The method of the brine goes something like this:

Brine for the Bird

This recipe is for turkey, but if you divide it in two you can use it for duck, chicken or goose.


1 Cup Raw Sugar

1 Cup Salt

Water – enough to absorb the sugar and salt (maybe a quart or two…or three…or…)

2 Cinnamon sticks

1T Anise Seed

2 tsp Fennel seed

1T Coriander seed

6 whole cloves

1T Mustard Seed

2T Whole Pepper Corns

Boil together for  30 minutes then cool to use as a brine for the bird.

Variations include adding citrus juice or liquid smoke.

OK now you know how to make the brine. What do you do with it??? Here’s what I would do – get a cooler (you know the kind that you use for a beach picnic) that is big enough to hold your turkey. For a smaller bird, you probably have a pot that it will fit in. Put your bird in the cooler and pour the cooled brine over it. Yikes!!! It doesn’t even come close to covering the bird. If I add enough water to cover the bird all the flavor from the brine will be too diluted. What should I do??? Oh now I remember, put in a big pot filled with water. This will fill up some of the space without diluting the flavor (I think this was geometry or something).  You can also use juice from oranges with the water and ice used to cover the bird. I love the flavor that citrus adds to this brine. Make sure the bird is covered (just barely is ok). You can now leave the bird for several days. For instance, a turkey can be brined for 3-5 days as long as you make sure that there is fresh ice in the brine. For smaller birds, only leave for one or two days.

Once your bird has been brined, cook using your favorite method. One thing you will find is that no matter how you cook the bird, brining will add flavor and moisture.

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