This How To Brine A Turkey in A Cooler Method Is Awesome!
The adventure of turkey season is finally here! Wild turkeys are exciting to hunt, and they are delicious on the dinner table. While store-bought turkeys are bred to be fat, wild gobblers are in great shape (I could probably take a few lessons from them). We’ve all had some dry, tough turkey, and that is not the reward we’re looking for after an awesome hunt. From woods to mouth the process of bagging and eating these birds is worth the effort of preparing the meat well. Your taste buds and your family will thank you.
I’ve experimented with a lot of marinades in the past and while they bring new flavors to the meat, they don’t normally add enough moisture. If the meat isn’t tender my wife isn’t that excited about it. Honestly, neither am I. You know what they say, “tender bird, happy wife, happy life!” To significantly add enough moisture and properly tenderize the meat, a BRINE is the only way to go. The salt in the brine changes the meat tissue of the turkey so that it can absorb more water and therefore more flavor. LET’S BRINE THAT BIRD!
How To Prepare A Turkey To Brine
First things first – let’s pluck it.
- Boil water in a large pot
- Submerge bird down to the feathers on its thighs
- Swish the bird in the pot for about 20 seconds and then remove
- Hang the turkey by the head and pluck away
Time to quarter it (unless you’d rather cook the whole bird)
- Remove the entrails and wash the cavity
- If you don’t plan to cook your bird whole, start by laying the turkey on its back. To remove the breast filets, cut the skin back from the breast. Cut along each side of the breastbone as well as on the inside of both wings. Loosen the breast filet from the bone. Cut from the back of the breast to the front, fileting the breast by pulling the filet and cutting with the knife. Do this on both sides.
- To remove the thigh and leg, cut through the thigh muscle where it attaches to the back. Grab the thigh and pull up until the joint comes loose. Keep cutting through the thigh until it comes free from the body.
How To Brine A Turkey In A Cooler
I have found the best way to brine a bird is in a cooler. The cooler provides space your fridge probably doesn’t offer. It also allows for the bird to be submerged in icy water for extended periods of time. If you are brining just the quartered sections of the bird a Grizzly 40 or 60 is plenty big enough. If you are brining the whole bird we suggest the Grizzly 75 or 100.
Finally, brine your turkey in a Grizzly Cooler
- Make the brine by adding 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of brown sugar. Heat up the brine on the stovetop to dissolve the salt and sugar solution. Be sure to let it cool before using the brine so it doesn’t prematurely cook the bird.
- Place the turkey in the cooler
- Pour the brine over top making sure all of the meat is submerged (double or triple the brine recipe as needed to fully submerge)
- Place a 15 lb. bag of ice or multiple frozen 2-liter bottles on top of the turkey. This provides the cool temps needed for the brine to do its thing and keeps your turkey fully submerged.
- Keep the turkey in the brine until you are ready to cook. Your Grizzly Cooler is sure to keep that ice frozen for the 12, 24, or 48 hours your bird is in the brine.
- Experiment with extra flavors. Feel free to throw in some garlic, apple cider vinegar, wine, peppercorns, onions, rosemary, orange slices, etc… you get the idea. As long as you keep a 1 gallon of water to 1 cup of salt ratio you can add whatever you like.
As your trophy of the hunt comes out of the brine be sure to wash that baby off. Tom, or Becky, or whatever you named your turkey is ready to cook. And, now you know how to brine a turkey in a cooler. Whether you roast, braise, fry, or grill it you can be sure the brining process has given your recipe the optimal potential for tenderness and flavor. Happy Hunting! Happy Brining!