Beer Brined Turkey
Thanksgiving is around the corner… How could we forget? We cannot! That pumpkin spice malarkey is everywhere, *said in a tone that implies my sanity is fleeting*.
So how do you bring your beer into your Thanksgiving feast, without spiking it with pumpkin and besides drinking it as a meal accompaniment? Well my fine, beer-drinking, friend… What about letting that fat bird (the one that did not get pardoned), take a swim in your BEER? You hear that? That is angels singing because this recipe came straight from heaven!
Besides being delicious, brining your turkey in beer has lots of benefits! The naturally occurring chemicals within beer, create the perfect conditions for tender, juicy meat, AND the sugars found in your brew encourage a lovely, caramelized skin. This is also a fantastic way to utilize whatever “truby” liquid is left at the bottom of your fermenter after bottling. Got a batch that did not turn out just right? Well, now you do not have to throw it away or suffer through drinking it in the interest of not wasting the investment.
Do I have your attention yet? Good. Now join me as we turn that “sober” bird, into a delicious “drunken” one! Gone are the days of dry, bland white meat. You can thank me later, from your inevitable tryptophan stupor. Here is how we brine our turkey with beer! Gobble, gobble, GLUG.
What you need to make the brine:
(Makes about 2ish gallons of brine, the recipe can be doubled if you need more)
2 Gallons of water (plan to set aside about 4 cups of it for dissolving the sugars)
1 cup of kosher salt or pink salt (basically any salt that is not iodized, avoid table salt)
½ cup Brown sugar or raw sugar (Brown sugar has a little molasses in it which is “very nice”)
About 48 ounces (That’s approximately 4-12 oz bottles) of your favorite stout, red, or basically whatever sounds good or that you have on hand or reserved from a previous batch. Stouts are great because the extra sugar gives the turkey skin great crisping potential and lends enough strong flavors to carry through in the meat. This beer can come from your fermenter, a bottle of homebrew or from a commercial bottle or package.
Herb Butter- because after that salty bath, that bird is going to need some moisturizer
1 stick of butter, softened (half a cup)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (You can use dried rosemary too, roughly a tablespoon
4-6 leaves fresh sage chopped (You can use dried sage as well, up to a tablespoon.)
4 sprigs fresh thyme chopped (You can use dried sage as well, up to a tablespoon.)
4 sprigs fresh oregano minced (You can use dried sage as well, up to a tablespoon.)
You can certainly use more or less of the herbs listed, to your liking. These quantities are for approx. a 12lb turkey.
You will also need a brining vessel large enough to fully submerge your turkey in the brine. Those 5-gallon buckets from the hardware store work quite nicely.
Let us make it!
Get that thawed bird out and get your game face on!
Combine salt and brown sugar with the 4 cups of water from the 2 gallons into a saucepan. Heat this mixture, stirring frequently until salt & sugar are completely dissolved into water. Allow the mixture to cool. Pour the solution into the brining bucket and add the remaining water. Next, dump that beer into the bucket. Remove giblet bag from the neck cavity of the turkey (often tucked up under a flap of skin) and the neck from the carcass cavity (keep that for delicious gravy!). Submerge turkey in brine and soak, chilled, for 12-24 hours. Remember this is raw meat, so if you cannot refrigerate your brining vessel, you will need to pack it with ice to maintain a food-safe temperature and prevent an ugly brush with botulism. (Turkey must be completely submerged. Increase brine if needed.)
After the brining period, it is time to rinse the turkey. Before taking it out of the brine, add about 8 cups of water to a kettle or pot on the stove and bring it to boil. Next, grab that bird, tress the legs if need be, and rinse the turkey with cold water, and then with the hot water you just boiled. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
Combine the stick of softened butter with the herbs and rub the butter and herb mixture liberally all over the turkey, give it a good massage.
Place the turkey in the oven at 350 degrees. For a 12lb turkey, cook for approx. 1-1/2 hours, then reduce the oven temp to 125 and continue to cook until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees. A twelve-pound turkey can take anywhere between 2-3 hours but keep a close eye on the legs. If the legs start to brown too quickly, wrap them in foil for the duration of the cooking.
Once cooked, remove the turkey from the oven and cover it with foil but loose enough to allow it to vent so the skin does not become tough and chewy. Let the turkey rest for 20-40 minutes.
And whalah! Presto, TURKEY! Now pair that delicious creation with a delicious beer!