Reduce by Half Episode 14: How to Brine a Turkey with Brian McAlister

Do you hate dried out, flavorless turkey? Then we have a solution for you – brine your turkey before you cook it! In this episode of Reduce by Half, we share how to brine a turkey. I’m joined on this episode by Brian McAlister, culinary genius, and we talk about the basics of brining, share some of our favorite recipes, and let you know how you can make your own brine at home. Listen to the episode using the player below, or click here to listen on iTunes. Enjoy!

The Two Methods of Brining

Wet Brining

Wet brining involves soaking meat in a solution of salt and water for a period of time. We recommend a base of 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. Wet brining helps make your food taste more juicy and flavorful through one of two methods. Scientists aren’t exactly sure which one, but one of these methods is how it works:

  1. Salt gets into the meat cells, which causes the cells to absorb water through osmosis. Water is then cooked out during the cooking process, but since there was more water to start with, the end result is a more juicy piece of meat.
  2. The salt denatures (breaks down) the meat, which causes the surface of the meat to trap more water inside. Less water is lost during the cooking process, resulting in a juicier piece of meat.

Regardless of how it works, wet brining is a great method for getting lots of extra juiciness into a turkey, and is my preferred method of brining a whole turkey!

Dry Brining

Dry brining involves sprinkling salt over the outside of your meat, and then letting it rest. Start with half a teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. The salt on the surface of the meat draws moisture up to the surface of the meat. The moisture then returns into the meat when you cook it, resulting in a juicy flavorful piece of meat. I prefer this method for smaller cuts of meat.

Brine Recipes

Check out the ingredients on a few of our favorite wet brine recipes. To make each brine, just pour all the ingredients into a large pot, heat to medium heat, stir together, cool, then pour into a container with your turkey.

Simple Turkey Brine

Lemon Turkey Brine

IPA Turkey Brine

Cajun Turkey Brine

Thanks for listening to this episode. We hope you learned about brining a turkey and feel confident to try it at home! If you have questions, or want to share your own brine recipe, please leave a comment below! If you enjoyed listening, you can always get more episodes of Reduce by Half by subscribing on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. To subscribe on iTunes, just follow this link. We’ll be back in December with Episode 15 – talk to you soon!

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