The Unglamorous But Highly Rewarding Task of Brining a Turkey

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**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




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