CHAPTER 5 TURKEY BRINING
By Dan Gill
Dan Gills's Web Page ADVICE On Brining
Dan Gill is another one of America's most respected PitMaster's
(like Fergy, Danny G, Dan Gill, Rock, Kit, Belly), a title bestowed
upon very few.
He has an EXCELLENT home page ...
( http://members.tripod.com/~DanGill/ )
... with a VERY large section dedicated to BBQ'ing and Smoking,
and helping others to learn the right methods. He also has a
rather complete page detailing the brining process.
He has kindly allowed me to "borrow" his page intact.
NOTE: Dan is also the most kind host of the "6th Annual Remlik
Steamed Crab, Silver Queen, and Q Feast" held at his home in
Virginia at the end of July.
You can read all about it at
"TURKEY: TO BRINE OR NOT TO BRINE"
By Dan Gill
"Turkey and chicken may be slow smoked but the skin is rubbery
and not very good.
They don't need a great deal of smoke flavor, so temperatures
of 275º to 325º are ideal. Use lighter flavored woods such as
cherry and apple.
If you smoke a turkey at temperatures of 180º to 225º F., you
need to brine it or risk making everyone very sick because the
bird spends a lot of time in the danger zone (40º to 140º F.).
At 250º F. and above the risk decreases dramatically. List
members (starting with me) discovered that brined birds are
moist and taste really good. Many of us have publicly declared
that we will not cook another turkey without brining it first.
Some people are sensitive to salt and find that birds subjected
to the full treatment are too salty for their tastes. To reduce
the saltiness, add sugar, decrease salt, decrease brining time
or soak the bird in fresh water for an hour prior to cooking. You
can brine just with salt but since salt takes flavors in with it,
why not take advantage. Sugar moderates the salty taste and
helps keep the birds juicy. Most of the people who have
commented that their birds were too salty did not use enough
sugar. The garlic, ginger and maple flavors are very subtle but
enhance the flavor of the bird. For safety, I would definitely
recommend using the brine full strength when cooking below
200º F. At higher temperatures, you can cut the salt in half if
you are salt sensitive.
Do not over cook! Brined birds cook faster so be careful and use
a real thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
Cook to 170º internal. There is no need to cook with the breast
down because the bird will be plenty juicy.
Estimate how much liquid will be required to completely cover
For each gallon (which should cover one 16# whole bird or two
8# breasts) ...
Mix (Per Gallon)
1-1/2 cups salt
1/2 cup molasses
1-1/2 T crushed or minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 T onion powder
1/4 cup pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 oz maple flavoring
I also usually throw in about 12 oz ginger ale. Alternatively, use
1/2 T ginger (ground, minced or whatever) in place of the garlic
Cover birds completely with brine and refrigerate overnight. In
the morning, remove from brine and drain while preparing
smoker. Smoke at around 275 (measured at grate level) to an
internal temp of 170 basting with butter every few hours to give
you the golden brown skin."