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smoking my first turkey - brine ideas?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi folks!  Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I'm finishing my first season with a great Bradley electric that my wife bought me for Christmas.  I've got a small bird that I'm going to smoke (as well as one I'm going to oven bake) and I have a few questions.


My dad used to smoke a fair bit of fish and he used a brine that was apple juice based.  I was thinking of using about a gallon (4 litres actually) of apple juice, a half cup of brown sugar and a cup of salt.  I don't think I'll need much more liquid as it's not a big bird.  Do you think the juice is a good idea or will I wreck my bird?


I also wanted to include a little Morton's salt in the brine as I was banking on the curing salts adding a little of that delicious bacon type flavour (tried this with ribs and got some nice reddish meat).  Not sure how much to include though... or maybe I can incorporate a little into a rub for the bird post-brine.


I was thinking 4 hours of smoke and an internal temperature of 165.  Sound good?  

post #2 of 7
Tips Slaughterhouse Brine is a very popular poultry brine:
post #3 of 7
The brine that I use quite a bit is apple juice, I also add six squeezed oranges, peppercorns whole cloves and whole garlic cloves. Salt and sugar ratios are close to what you listed.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot guys... I'm going to try the apple juice and see what sort of results I get.  I've brined turkey before and got great results, but my instructions were very clear about thoroughly rinsing the turkey before cooking.  Do you recommend a rinse before it goes on the smoker?  I might try throwing a few other spices right in the brine, although I've read various sources that seem to indicate there is very little contributed in terms of flavour.  I'm going to give it a go...,

post #5 of 7

yes, rinse the brine off, its salty.

Be sure to let us know how the apple juice works out!

I normally just go with equal parts sugar and salt, whole allspice and bay leaves.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well.... I finished the bird this evening.  I was VERY happy with how it turned out, although it was about 9 or so hours in the smoker and seemed to get stuck around 150 IT.  I popped it into a 275 oven for 15 mins to get it up to 165 in the thigh... a bit of a pain but not really a big deal I guess.  It tastes sooooooo good.  I will be doing this again next year for sure, and any time turkeys happen to go on sale.


My brine turned out to be:


4 litres of apple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup salt

1 TBS Morton's Tender Quick

Garlic cloves, peppercorns, some sage and thyme and various other herbs left over from a dry brine of another turkey I was working on


I'd really like to try the orange that dirt sailor recommended.  Interesting thing is that the Morton's gives it a bit of red colouration and adds a nice cured taste, which was what I was hoping for.  I will add a little more next time and will brine for longer.  I guess that 16 hours is pretty close to 24 though, but maybe 8 more hours would really take it over the edge!  The meat is tender and sweet from the juice and the sugar.  I just wish I could have got the temp a little higher in my Bradley, but as I am quickly discovering, this seems to be a common issue.  


Regardless, the bird is carved and ready to serve tomorrow alongside my dry brined bird that I'll pop in the oven.


Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

post #7 of 7

Do you have any pictures to share?  :45:

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