Ancho Chile & Maple Turkey Brine
makes enough to brine a 12- to 15-pound turkey
5 ounces Ancho chilies (about 8 chilies)
8 cloves garlic
2 cups kosher salt
1 bunch fresh sage
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 quarts water (4 cups = 1 quart)
2 cups Grade B real maple syrup
For the brine: cut the stems off and discard; then slices the chilies into strips, reserving the seeds if desired (I did). Add chilies and seeds to a medium sauce pan. With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange and add to the pan; squeeze and reserve the juice. Smash and chop the garlic and add to the pan along with the salt. Stir in 1 quart water and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt has dissolved.
Into a stockpot (or other container large enough to hold the turkey), add the herbs, orange juice and maple syrup. Stir in the hot brine mixture and then stir in the remaining 7 quarts of water. Cool to room temperature. The brine is now ready for the turkey!
How To Brine A Turkey
- Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve for making gravy (or discard). Rinse turkey thoroughly inside and out.
- Let turkey sit at room temperature while you prepare the brine.
- Prepare the brine making sure that all of the salt and sugar is dissolved.
- Cool brine completely to room temperature.
- Submerge turkey, breast side down, in a large container made of food-grade plastic, stainless steel, glass, or a brining bag. with the room temperature brine. If necessary weigh down the turkey with a plate to keep submerged.
- Place in the refrigerator or in a cooler covered with ice for the specified amount of time.
- Remove turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. The turkey is now ready to grill or roast as desired.
Turkey Brining Tips
Brines are salty solutions that help lean meats hold their moisture so they stay juicy and tender during grilling. Brining is a popular method for preparing lean meats, poultry, and particularly turkey, that tend to dry out on the grill. Sugar, spices, and herbs are sometimes added to the liquid as well.
- Purchase a fresh turkey to eliminate the need to thaw.
- Frozen birds will work as well, but make sure it is not self-basting or enhanced with a salt solution. The added solution in these birds would make the meat too salty if also brined.
- If the bird is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator (plan ahead, as this may take a couple of days).
- The key to making a turkey brine recipe is the salt-liquid ratio. Too little salt won’t produce an effective brine, and too much will make the turkey salty.
- A general brine ratio to remember is 1 tablespoon kosher salt : 1 cup water (or ¼ cup kosher salt : 1 quart water).
- The brine must be completely cooled to room temperature before submerging the turkey. To cool it faster, replace some of the cold water in the recipe with an equal amount of ice.
- Soak the turkey in a container large enough to submerge it completely—a plate or two often works well to weigh it down.
- Store the food in the refrigerator for the entire brining process. If there is no room in the fridge, place turkey in a brining bag with the brine and store covered with ice in a cooler.
- For turkeys under 12 pounds, cover and soak in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours; for birds over 12 pounds, soak for at least 12 hours.
- Keep an eye on the soaking time because over-brining can cause the turkey to get mushy and overly salty.
- Brining times vary depending on the cut of meat, the brine, and the cooking method. Always follow the times listed in the recipes
- Before grilling or roasting, rinse the brined meat to remove excess salt and pat it dry with paper towels.