Brining you holiday turkey is a great way to ensure that you have a moist and flavorful bird after all of the time and effort you’ve put into it. The addition of bourbon and molasses will not only produce a great tasting turkey, but also a beautiful mahogany color and sweet and salty crisp skin.
Brining is akin to marinating your turkey in a slated water solution. This changes the cell structure of the meat, allowing it to hold more moisture. Plus as it is absorbing more moisture, it is also seasoning the turkey. Do not us a kosher or self-basting turkey as they have already been injected with a salted broth and will produce an over-salty bird.
A whole turkey must brine for about 24 hours, so plan accordingly. Also, a brined turkey will brown faster, so have plenty of aluminum foil on-hand.
Bourbon and Molasses Turkey Brine
7 1/2 quarts cold water (4 cups = 1 quart)
2 cups bourbon
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 oranges, sliced
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 garlic bulb, cut in half through the cloves
1/4 cup black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
5 stems fresh rosemary
5 gallon bucket (clean) or a container large enough for brine and turkey
1 (12 to 15 pound) natural turkey – not self-basting or kosher, thawed
Use a large pot or stock pot and add 1 1/2 of quarts water, bourbon salt, sugar, molasses, oranges, onions, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until salt and sugar have dissolved. Transfer to clean container and stir in remaining 5 quarts of cold water and the fresh herbs. Cool completely to room temperature.
Remove turkey from fridge. Remove the neck and giblet and reserve for giblet gravy. Submerge turkey in brine. You may have to find a heavy object (I used a grill press) to keep the turkey fully submerged.
Place the container in the fridge to brine turkey overnight (12 to 16 hours) – you’ll probably have to move racks around. One hour before grilling, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. You’re now ready to grill your turkey!