Following is an easy recipe for brining your Thanksgiving turkey. The salt solution effectively breaks down the proteins, resulting in tender, moist meat. Science aside, a brined turkey is amazingly delicious.
Here is the recipe I used for my (almost) 22 lb. bird, with photos:
2-32oz. catons vegetable or chicken stock
1.5 gallons cold water
1 can apple juice concentrate
2 cups sea salt
coarse ground pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
2 tsp. savory (optional)
In very large stockpot, combine salt, juice concentrate and 4 cups water. Bring to boil & cook until salt is dissloved. Add rest of ingredients and let cool to room temperature.
Now comes the (sometimes) messy part. I would recommend clearing everything out of your sink. Use a food grade plastic bag, like the Reynold's turkey bag here. Place bag in a container that is sufficient to hold your turkey. (I used a large plastic dish tub; sometimes a canning pot works well). Rinse your thawed turkey and remove everything from cavity. Place turkey, breast side down into your plastic bag. Slowly pour cooled brine over turkey.
You want to be sure that the entire turkey is sumerged in the brine. Tightly tie your bag closed. I then placed the white plastic tub in the garage so the brine could work its magic overnight!
Make SURE that you have no holes in your bag. Yours truly did not do that & I am sparing everyone from the pictures of that mess.
My 22 lb turkey will cook in about 2 hours. After rinsing the bird, I will give him a massage with a bit of butter and place him in a roasting bag and my big roaster. The brine greatly reduces cooking time, so watch your bird. In addition, rinse carefully before cooking so that your drippings will not be salty.
Here is the carmel-pecan pie I made while the brine was cooling. My pumpkin pie is cooking now. It is very chilly out today, but it's toasty in the kitchen & our home smells like Thanksgiving!
Caramel Pecan Pie recipe link from Southern Living. (I did sub dark brown sugar for white).