at first I thought it meant “maximum zoom”

TENSO may be my new favourite brazilian portuguese meme on these here internets.  More examples here (a bunch of these are NSFW).

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up this Monday, and I’m hosting a little get-together to celebrate it this weekend. It’s a potluck, so I’m not getting too worked up about it, but I still haven’t cooked a turkey since 2006 and I’ve had enough bad turkeys to know that I wouldn’t want to inflict that on people who I consider friends.

I also happen to be a food nerd, so I have a lot of sources for turkey advice. And just about all of them suggest brining.  And of course, every food writer has their own take on brine ingredients/time.  Dry/don’t dry. Sugar/no sugar. Etc.  It started getting complicated. I started taking notes.  Then I figured I’d brave the evils of table layout in WordPress to bring you the combined wisdom of my Personal Pantheon of Gastronomical Greatness.  Follow the jump in order to:

Learn 2 Brine, Noob

Source Brine Recipe Brine Method Turkey Special Instructions Notes
Charcuterie, Michael Ruhlman et al.
  • 1 cup (225g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (125g) sugar
  • 1 gallon water
  • couple sprigs each of:
  • tarragon
  • parsley
  • bay leaves
  • onion
  • 3 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 lemon
Bring all ingredients up to a simmer, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Chill before adding bird.

24hr brine, 3-24 hours dry time in fridge

nothing really. aka The Sausage Book. Though I haven’t had the wherewithal to try out any of their recipes that actually involve pork yet, the one experience that I had with using this brine on a chicken (grill-roasted) was transcendental. Too bad this is the fussiest of them all.
my boyfriendAlton Brown
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1.5 tsp allspice berries
  • 1.5 tsp candied ginger
  • 1 gallon water
Bring all ingredients up to a simmer, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Chill before adding bird.

8-16hr brine, straight to oven

Basting is evil, Stuffing is evil, fill the cavity with the following before roasting (super high –> low heat method):

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
Did I say Charcuterie was fussy? I’m sorry Alton, but stock is for gravy, not for the bird.
Cookwise, Shirley Corriher No brine – salt rub Rub in and out with salt, cover and refridgerate 3-24 hours Cook with 1/2 cup stock on bottom of pan for basting goodness.
Fill cavity with

  • onion
  • celery
  • sage
  • thyme
  • orange
  • bay leaves
If you watch Good Eats, you’ve probably seen Shirley – she’s one of Alton’s nerd friends.
Lynne Rosetto Kasper, The Splendid Table
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 gallon water
4-5 day?! brine Come on LRK, you know I’d switch teams for you (if you’d promise to cook for me) but now you’re just getting silly.
Cooks Illustrated
  • 1 cup salt
  • no sugar (sad face!)
  • 2 gallons water
6-12 hours, air dry overnight Start breast side down, flip after 45 mins Christopher Kimball built my hot rod. He’s also good friends with my home-girl Lynne. What do you think their food fights are like?  I say sexy. (and by “sexy” here, I mean the opposite of)

Chris-dawg says that you shouldn’t use sugar, because the long cooking times mean that the skin could overbrown.  I am skeptical.

The Prudent Hedonist ??? ??? ??? Not that I deserve to actually be in a list with the rest of these people, but none of the methods above seems to be really “right”.  I think a Frankenbrine is in order — I’ll let you know how it goes.


  1. jen Oct 7

    ACTUALLY, we use alton’s method every year and i declare it to be a+++++++++++++++, would nom again. it does phenomenal things to the normally dry white meat.

  2. tph Oct 7

    I’ve brined before so I know it will be moist — I just don’t know if the additional flavour from using stock will be worth it.

  3. jen Oct 8

    i think it’s definetly worth it! it sort of rounds out all that sugar and the herbs.