I use Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar for several reasons. This is a beer with the perfect flavor profile to brine a turkey, and it is also a beer that is becoming available at more and more locations worldwide. Making it the perfect beer to recommend for this recipe. If you live in a land where Rogue isn’t available, look for another malty brown ale that isn’t too hoppy instead.
Why brine with beer? This beer brine does two things: First, alcohol is a natural meat tenderizer. Second, the brown ale gives a beautiful but faint flavor of the hazelnut and malt that Rogue took so much time crafting. Turkey cooking is tricky, while the dark meat should be cooked to 175°, the white meat is done at 165°. Giving you only two basic options when cooking the whole bird: overcook the white meat, or undercook the dark meat. The beer brine infuses the meat, making it possible to get that dark meat up to the temperature it needs to be without drying the white meat out. This gives you the coveted juicy bird. But what about the skin? Brine can make it soggy. Follow the steps to dry the skin in a roasting rack in the fridge and you’ll have that crispy skin.
Crispy skin: check. Juicy bird: check. You might even have some beer left over to celebrate your turkey win.
More tips throwing a Craft Beer Thanksgiving
Beer Brined Turkey
- 1, 12-16 lb turkey*, thawed
- 10 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher or Sea Salt (don't use iodized table salt)
- 5 cloves of garlic, quartered
- 1/4 cup whole allspice berries
- 1 tbs whole cloves
- 2 onions, quartered
- 2 large (1 pint, 6 oz) bottles of brown ale such as Rogue Hazelnut Ale (about 5 1/2 cups)
- 2 cup ice
- 3 celery ribs, cut in half
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups of chicken broth, plus 4-6 cups water if needed
- 2 large turkey oven bags, or bucket large enough to fit the turkey, but small enough so that the entire turkey is submerged.
- In a large pot, add the water, salt, garlic, allspice, cloves, and one of the onions. Bring to just barely boiling and remove from heat, stiring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Add the beer and ice, stir. (if your turkey is over 18 lbs, double the brine recipe)
- Allow to cool to room temp, refrigerating if necessary.The brine must be cooled before you add your turkey or it will start to cook.
- Rinse the thawed turkey and remove anything that has been place inside the cavity.
- Place turkey in either the large bucket, or the oven bags. If you are using the oven bags, place one inside the other and the turkey inside those. Pour the brine over the turkey. If using the oven bags, make sure to remove as much air as possible and seal as tightly as you can, placing in a roasting pan in case the brine starts to leak. Place in the refrigerator.
- Brine for 16-18 hours. If using the oven bags, rotate the turkey every 6-8 hours to insure an even brine.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse really well, inside and out with cold water.
- Place turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Place in the fridge, uncovered, for 12-18 hours to dry the skin. This is the step that will give you a nice crispy skin to go along with your juicy bird.
- Preheat your oven to 400.
- Truss your turkey if desired.
- Brush your entire turkey with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.
- Stuff the other quartered onion, and the celery inside the cavity of the bird.
- Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Add the broth to the bottom of the roasting pan. If the pan starts to dry out during the cooking, add the additional water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Do not allow the broth/water in the roasting pan to touch the turkey.
- Cook until your turkey reachs about 160 degrees (it will continue to cook once out of the oven to meet the 165 degree temperature). Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Turkey that has been pre-treated or pre-brined will be too salty. Large commercial poultry farms often add a salt brine to increase the weight and therefore the cost of the bird, "Kosher" turkeys are generally pre treated with salt and aren't the best to use with a brine, as they will be too salty. "Natural" turkeys will most likely not be pre-treated with salt. If the label list "sodium" as an ingredient, it will likely be too salty to use with a brine. Look for a natural turkey or one that has never been exposed to salt.
How To Truss A Turkey, Alton Brown.
|Weight Total||Roasting Time|
|8-12 pounds||2 to 3.5 hours|
|12-16 pounds||3 to 4 hours|
|16-20 pounds||4 to 5 hours|
|20-25 pounds||5 to 6 hours|
|25-30 pounds||6+ hours|
Chart via WholeFoodsMarket.com