Hot Turkey Brine and Sage and Apple Turkey Brine

(2 recipes in one post!)

Turkey Day!!!  Yes, it’s that time of year when men go old-school and decide to spend theimg_3335 day avoiding most pre-Thanksgiving chores by breaking out the smoker and announcing “Honey, I really wish I could help you get the house ready for all the family and friends descending on us for Thanksgiving but I am going to be way too busy smoking a turkey and it will probably take my undivided attention…yes, for the entire day…no, really…all..day…long”

(Reality Check:  Wives wake up at 4:00 am on Thanksgiving day and put the turkey in the oven, then start working on the sides and desserts, while men sleep longer, only to be woken by the aroma of oven-baked turkey, come into the kitchen and grab a bowl of cereal, then sit on the couch and watch the parade….)

(Double reality check:  Turkey smoking happens the day before Thanksgiving and husband wakes up with wife on Turkey day at 4:00 am to help prep and cook the Thanksgiving feast.  Edited by wife)

Generally some of the best whole turkey-cooking methods involve brining the turkey in a salt mixture before cooking and the smoking method follows the same principle.  We like to prepare the brine and soak the breasts a least 24-36 hours before smoking.  Make sure the turkey is thawed when brining.

The Sage and Apple brine is for the more traditional turkey lovers who enjoy their bird with the smoke flavor highlighted by the apples and herbs.

Jumping on the back of the Hot Chicken bandwagon was an easy decision since it’s a favorite of mine and it’s popularity has outgrown Nashville.  The Hot Turkey idea  was inspired by many visits to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken,  Big Shakes Hot Chicken and, of course, Prince’s Hot Chicken

Whatever recipe you use, always make sure the brine is cool before you submerge the birdie-breasts and remember that you need to clean any materials that come in to contact with the raw turkey to avoid contamination.  This brine can be used for either oven-baked or smoked turkey.

Sage and Apple Turkey Brine

  • Servings: brine for 2 turkey breasts or 1 whole turkey
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 gallon water

2 quarts apple juice or apple ciderimg_3329

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup kosher salt

2 cups light brown sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

4-5 bay leaves

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs

1/4 cup whole peppercorns

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tsp orange zest

Bring the ingredients to a boil or at least hot enough to make sure the salt and brown sugar dissolve and the flavors from the herbs or hot sauce infuse the mixture.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool pour over the turkey breasts (Remember to remove the giblets from the cavity if they are included. Don’t want any surprises! ) and seal in a cooler or a large pot in your refrigerator. We use double kitchen trash bags and set in our large cooler with plenty of ice.