Brining your turkey is the best way to add flavor and ensure tender meat.
2 cups kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
10 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon sliced fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole nutmeg (slightly crushed)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 cinnamon sticks (broken)
Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside or cover and store for up to 3 days.
7 quarts cold water
1 bottle white wine like Riesling or Chardonnay
2 onions (quartered)
1 head garlic (halved)
1 large orange or 3 clementines
1 small bunch each: fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme
Place a clean never used tall kitchen garbage bag (do not use a scented or deodorant type bag) into a clean container (I use a rectangular 5 gallon bucket bought especially for this) and fold it over the sides so it can’t fall in while you are mixing your brine.
Next, pour the water and wine into the container/bag. Add the onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. Give the orange a squeeze and plop it in too. Add the dry mixture and stir until most of the salt and sugar is dissolved.
After removing the giblet bag for the cavity of the turkey, and giving it a good rinse inside and out. Slowly ease the turkey into the brine, submerging the whole bird breast side down. Tie the bag up and place the container in a cold place overnight.
I put mine on the shelf away from pets in the un-heated garage. You can also prepare your turkey brine in a cooler, resting the brining bag and turkey on a bed of ice.
If your turkey wants to float, weigh it down by placing an inverted plate onto the top of the turkey (but outside the bag) and use large soup cans stacked on the plate.
Edit (2019) You know what? I forgot to tell you how long you should leave the bird in the brine…. at least 24 hours! I stick mine in the brine around 5pm the night before. 🙂