The Unglamorous But Highly Rewarding Task of Brining a Turkey

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

**Hey readers! Thanks for your patience as I am busy starring in the movie TRADE right now and on a crazy schedule wrapping up the final shots. Here’s a seasonally appropriate re-print for the upcoming holiday. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! xo-TGC**

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Ah, the controversy surrounding brining a turkey. All the cooking shows wage war on this process every holiday season. Here’s The Gentleman Caller’s 2 cents: DO IT.

One of my dearest, darlingest friends, Laura Jean Snow, and I have cooked so many holiday meals together that lately when we finish all our prep work and preproduction we look at each confoundedly, certain that we have forgotten something crucial. We never have. It’s become such a routine that we can knock it out in the blink of an eye.

Brining the bird is always my duty. I have a penchant for buying the biggest turkey in all 5 boroughs, regardless of the size of the crowd. In general a big bird means a tougher bird, so I started this process years ago. And it works.

It’s a tad unconventional in the materials department, but trust me.

Here’s what you need:


  • one clean, preferably new 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid
  • one gallon of water
  • 1 cup of kosher salt
  • one cup of white sugar
  • handful of pickling spice
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • the ends from package of celery (see video)**
  • stems from a bunch of parsley**
  • stems from a bunch of sage**
  • sprigs of rosemary**
  • thyme stems**
  • ends of onions**
  • 1 apple, cut into eighths
  • 1 orange, cut into eighths
  • 1 lemon, cut into eighths
  • about 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 10-12 calves of garlic, smashed

**you don’t have to use the stems and remnants of these items if you don’t want. I am very cheap; I hate to throw anything away. I use the discards.

In a large pot, bring all the ingredients just to a boil. Turn off the heat, stir till the salt and sugar are dissolved. Let it cool for a sec.

Retrieve your bucket and its lid. In a meticulously clean bathtub, scrub the hell out of the bucket and its lid with dish soap. Inside and out. If you want to use a few drops of bleach to get it extra hospital-y, be my guest. That’s what I do. Dry it with a paper towel or meticulously clean cloth.


Pour the contents of the pot into the bucket. Add about a gallon of ice. You don’t want to immerse the bird in hot liquid.

The bird should be thawed or nearly thawed but quite cold. Place the bird in the bucket feet up.


Give it a little swirl to let some of the ingredients float and allow the salt to permeate the ice that was added. Affix the lid. You’re basically done.

If you live somewhere cold, you may store this bucket outside if the temp is hovering around 34, 35 degrees. Otherwise, check on it occasionally and add more ice to the top. Allow to sit for 18 hours at least.

When it’s time to cook her, rinse the bird and throw the brine away.

Buttering the bird and the breast implants will be coming soon! I’ve got you curious now, don’t I?

Thanks for hanging while I gave you the bird. Recipe.


The Gentleman Caller




Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

**This gem is a re-run from earlier this year, but as the Autumn air crisps up, I found it appropriate to re-post. I am in Los Angeles shooting a movie so will be doing some re-posts here till I have a second to shoot some new content.**

When I was a kid, we’d make the drive from Alvin to the ranch in Johnson City, TX, in the big grey Buick LeSabre, and we always got there without mom and dad murdering us. This bakery is one of the institutions I credit with allowing me to be alive today to write this article for you.

The Bon Ton Bakery, now known as Weikel’s Bakery ( located on Highway 71 in LaGrange, TX, was a usual stop on our road trip. Yes, that LaGrange, TX. The one with the infamous chicken ranch brothel. We never stopped there.

But we DID often stop to empty our bladder and fill up our belly at the bakery. They particularly specialized in a Texas treat derived from German and Czech traditions called kolaches. That’s another post. But they also had fantastic cinnamon rolls.

Being a little porker, I always appreciated a sweet roll. Even as an adult, it’s a weakness I still possess. Mind you, not any sweet roll will do.

So, I have spent a few years developing this one: the one that cries out to be eaten as soon as it is cooled down enough not to hurt you. With much fanfare I present The Gentleman Caller’s Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Icing.

Diametrically opposed fat sources.

What you need:

  • Half recipe of The Gentleman’s Sweet Roll Dough*
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla bean sugar**
  • 3-4 Tablespoons grated cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • Cream Cheese Maple Icing

*A full recipe will make two pans of cinnamon rolls.

**Vanilla bean sugar: in a jar or container, store a few cups of white sugar with a vanilla bean. Measure your 2/3 cup of sugar when ready to use and add vanilla bean caviar to your liking.

“Exquisite dough, and fortunately Jill got me this beautiful dough cutter for Christmas.This is very straightforward, especially if you watched the video.

Roll the dough out to approximately 16″ x 22”.

The Gentleman Caller’s Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

Smear that barely softened butter on that dough. After that, grate all the cinnamon. Yes, grate it.

Throw brown sugar and vanilla sugar all over it.

This is round one… Keep spreading. Not nearly enough.

Make a thick layer of sugar and spice, then roll that dough lengthwise.  Be careful initially, it’s tender. But the further you get, the easier it is.

It’s time to cut the log into pieces.

These are just risen, and so demure.

Allow to rise again for an hour. Then brush with butter (actual butter).

Bake them for 12 minutes initially. Check them. Do not overcook them. 14 minutes is probably your number, but watch.

I am so careful about instructions sometimes because I know what you’ve done to get to this place. I am never offering you a Pinterest fail.

It’s time to ICE.

The Gentleman Caller’s Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Writers usually don’t tell stories about icing, but I am.

My family members love icing like they love meat, Christmas and possibly their kids.

This sort of loose cream cheese frostings sinks down into a cinnamon roll, but not too deep. I do not enjoy a cinnamon roll with no icing bleed-down into the roll itself.

I recommend that you ice when the rolls are warm, as the video states.

What you need (to ice 1 pan of rolls, double for 2):

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons good maple syrup (If you use Mrs. Butterworth’s and that’s your jam, don’t tell me. Just send me pics.)
  • A whisper (one squeeze) of lemon juice
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a mixer, marry the butter and cream cheese. Beat them until they are well combined and almost fluffy. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Make sure the mixture is combined. You’ll likely need to use your rubber spatula and stir it together.

Once that is combined, incrementally add the confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.

*A hint – I grated a whisper of orange rind into this. My maple syrup wasn’t as robust as I wanted, so I grated some orange rind. Even with a robust maple flavor, you can’t go wrong with this.

Continue to blend that at a high speed until it’s like sinuous pancake batter. Thick.

Once it reaches that consistency, spoon the icing into a ziploc bag. Work it into a corner. Snip the edge of the corner on the diagonal and let the frosting go.

Spew it onto the rolls at your discretion.

Allow to sit briefly, then eat!

Trust me, these are evil. And thank you.


The Gentleman Caller


The Gentleman Celebrates His Past Summer – The Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail

The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Sometimes things come together in a beautiful dovetail.

You wind up in Maine, doing a show. You meet people you love. I mean LOVE.

You book a lead in a movie. While on that job. Then you realize you need to see some of them as much as humanly possible. Because you’re moving back to LA.

Aleka Emerson and I present The Gentleman’s (and Aleka’s) Maine+Texas Brunswick Blueberry Basil cocktail.

What you need (for 2):

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 4 leaves basil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric acid powder (Fruit Fresh)
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Dripping Springs Gin
  • 2 splashes bitters
  • seltzer, club soda, sparkly water
  • basil or lemon peel for garnish

Muddle blueberries and basil. Add honey and citric acid.

Add gin and lemon juice. Stir with ice.

Pout into rocks glass. Top with seltzer. Garnish.

You’re going to love this.

The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail
The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail


Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Friends, you know I am cheap. This video – our first upholstery rehab video – shows you how to rehabilitate a pair of old but well made chairs to make them seamlessly fit into an existing design scheme.

The project turned out to be a little more ambitious than originally anticipated due to extra steps that I added on myself, but the chairs turned out nonetheless exquisite and momma was VERY happy!

Thanks for popping in!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Sage-Studded Garlic Fennel and Brussels Roast

After a perfect day in Maine, TGC feeds his hungry friends.

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

TGC’s first paddle boarding adventure.

As summer flashes by us, I am getting to spend some of its waning moments in beautiful Maine. I am up at Maine State Music Theater presently, and having one of the best summers in recent memory.

Gorgeous people: Aleka Emerson, Matty Rickard (and GUS)!

Firstly, Maine is indescribably spectacular. The weather can be a tad menopausal, but the natural beauty of its lakes, beaches, trees, architecture, and denizens make it absolutely enchanting.

Chelsea Williams, best Sandy ever and all-around beautiful soul.

This last week, my “Sandy” – incomparably cool Chelsea Williams ACTUAL Mainer  – took me and the Dream Team to Thomas Pond in Raymond. An afternoon of intense sunshine, paddle boarding, a pontoon boat ride, a family of loons and a very energetic Boston Terrier conspired to make the perfect day off from the show.


How does one top a day like that? With a Gentleman Caller family dinner, of course!

This is one of the dishes I put down in front of my little Maine “family” on our final day off before heading back to the big City. It’s not terribly difficult but will punch you in the face with robust flavors and intense aromas.

What you need:

  • 1 – 1 1/4 pound brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 5 or 6 large fresh sage leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons red chili flake (based on your taste buds)
  • kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper

The Gentleman Caller giving you surfer chic while zesting. PC: Aleka Emerson

Preheat your oven, preferably on convection mode, to 425.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with pan release.

Cut the butt off the brussel sprouts and halve them. Put them in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the fennel fronds off the bulb. halve the bulb lengthwise, then cut into 1/3 inch pieces widthwise. Add to mixing bowl.

Smash the garlic with the side of your knife; chop to the consistency you like. I like bigger pieces.

Rough chop the onion. Chiffonade the sage. Add to bowl.

Zest the lemon, preferably with a zester that allows strips and not a microplane grate. Add to the bowl.

Drizzle everything with olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, ample salt (at least a teaspoon, probably more), and pepper. Stir to combine.

Spread evenly on the prepared pan. Place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. When the edges start to caramelize, remove from the oven and squeeze the entire lemon over the vegetables and add some additional black pepper. You could also opt to sprinkle with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Printable PDF here: Sage-Studded Garlic Fennel and Brussels Roast

Thanks for joining me on my adventures! You’re gonna love this simple healthy dish!

xo, The Gentleman Caller