Brining A Chicken or Turkey


Nosh_Turkey-2Why brine a whole chicken or Turkey? 

The answer is simple. It will season the bird with the added herbs, lemon slices and sugar. It adds moisture and reduces the chance of the chicken or turkey drying out while its cooking especially with bigger sized birds. 

Brining consists of making a salt water solution in a 1:8 cup ratio of salt to water. The bird is then soaked in the brine for a period of time, much like a marinade. I soak at a ratio of 1 hour for every 400g (1lb). 

To put it scientifically, the brine hydrates the muscle tissues allowing them to retain moisture during cooking. This means the whole bird will be moist and areas like the breast meat will not be dry. 

The simple 1:32 cup ratio if salt to water can be enhanced by adding fresh herbs in the liquid so as to infuse the meat not just with moisture, but flavour as well. 

Additionally, you can substitute part of the water with other liquids, such as lemon or orange juice or apple cider. I have also in the past used some apricot juice. About 2 cups with great results. 

Chicken-BrineThe recipe below is for brining a whole turkey. For a medium sized chicken halve the recipe. 

2 lemons, cut into thick slices
6 bay leaves
100g (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
25g (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1 cup sea salt
8 liters (2 gallons) water 

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a low boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. 

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken or turkey, add the bird and refrigerate 12 hours for a turkey and 6 for a chicken. The chicken may be too salty if you brine the chicken for more than 6 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, cover and let it rest at room temperature for over an hour. You can rest it in the fridge overnight if required 

Roast as per suppliers instructions.