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Brining your bird

This recipe is a composite of several that I have trialled over the years, and I love the subtle spicy/herbal flavours that infuse deeply in the bird. The point of brining is moisture — your turkey will be juicier, more succulent and have a big boost of flavour. Don’t be afraid of the salt — you’ll not have a salty dinner — but if you are making gravy from the pan drippings, don’t add salt without tasting!

Yield: Recipe is good for a 5-10 kilogram fresh or thawed turkey (12-22 pounds)


  1. Make room in your refrigerator for a very large container (a well cleaned storage bin, an enormous heavy duty  freezer bag, canning pot etc.)In a large saucepan combine the following ingredients and slowly bring to a boil:
  2. In a large saucepan combine the following ingredients and slowly bring to a boil:
    1 litre water
    1 ½ cups kosher salt
    1 cup honey
    2 cups brown sugar
    2 heads garlic, halved
    2 lemons, halved
    1 tbsp. peppercorns
    8 bay leaves
    2 tbsp. juniper berries
    1 bundle fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage leaves
  1. Add 7 litres of water to the cooled mixture - stir well. I substitute a bottle of white wine for one of the litres of water!
  2. Place the fresh or thawed turkey in the container and pour the cooled brining liquid over the bird (rinse the bird if you wish - no need to pat dry).
  3. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to 2 days, turning every 12 hours.  If the turkey is not fully submerged, weight it down with a heavy plate or pan.
  4. When you are ready to roast, remove bird from brine and discard the liquid.  Rinse the turkey a few times and pat dry.
  5. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and cook as you normally would.

I preheat my oven to 450 degrees F, placing the oven rack in the lowest position, and roast for 30 minutes; then turn oven to 350 degrees F and roast until internal temperature is 160 degrees F - the resting time will boost the final internal temperature to 165 degrees F, which is where turkey should be. Baste frequently for a golden brown skin, and cover any bits that start to get too dark with tin foil. Let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Impress friends and family with this juicy, perfectly seasoned bird, complete with a wine pairing that will make this meal truly unforgettable.


*Cover image: "easy-turkey-thanksgiving" by Steve JohnsonCC BY 2.0

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