Category Archives: Brine

Time To Brine!!!

Ah yes! Once you have experienced a brined turkey, it is hard imagining having turkey prepared any other way. I did a post last Thanksgiving on brining a bird, and subsequent posts on brined pork. Here are links to some of the better turkey brines I have tried:

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!


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Filed under Brine, grill, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber

Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if ya can back it up.”

New Year’s Day we had the best pork we can remember, and I made it (does anyone remember the “Shake ‘n Bake” commercials from 70’s?)! How that’s for braggin’? Well…was it really me, or was it the brine? “We” made a brined pork loin which was absolutely fantastic, and highlighted by great flavoring, incredible moistness and a very evident smoke ring (more later).

As an admitted “brinaholic” I have already dedicated two posts to the process; one on brined turkey and another on brined pork chops. Brining is the process of soaking meat or vegetables in a saltwater and/or seasoned water bath, and has been around for centuries to preserve meats when refrigeration wasn’t available. Brining is best for lean meats such as poultry (chicken, Cornish hens, turkey), pork (roasts, tenderloin, chops) and shrimp that tend to be mild flavored, more easily over-cooked and prone to drying out.

I concocted a “best of” brine New Years’s Eve morning in my new dedicated brining cooler (perfectly sized for a 15 lbs. turkey). The brine included:

2 gallons water
1 12 oz. UFO Hefeweizen (wheat) beer
1 cup kosher salt
3 TBSP molasses
3 TBSP Malabar Table Grind Black Pepper (store brand will work too)
1 TBSP crushed red pepper
4 bay leaves
Ice cubes

A 3 lbs. pork loin was put in the brine for 24 hours. The next afternoon I fired up the trusty Weber kettle grill. The pork was placed center grill at 2:00 with charcoal and coffee wood burning in the side rails. The vents were opened about half way.

I basted the pork at one hour with olive oil. At 1 and 1/2 hours I put the pork in a throw away pan with a 12 oz UFO Hefeweizen. The pan was sealed with aluminum foil and the vents were closed. In another hour I brought the pan inside to allow the meat to rest, as they say. The meat was still warm and moist when I carved and served it at 5:45.

So what is a smoke ring? A smoke ring is a pink discoloration of meat just under the surface crust (called bark). It can be just a thin line of pink or a rather thick layer. The smoke rings is caused by nitric acid building up in the surface of meat, absorbed from the surface. This nitric acid is formed when nitrogen dioxide from wood combustion in smoke mixes with water in the meat. Basically it is a chemical reaction between the smoke and the meat.


Filed under Brine, grill, Indirect, Kingsford, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, primarily due to the absence of commercialism. Granted the “Black Friday” phenomena has recently become a big deal in our consumer-spending driven economy, but each of us has the option to ignore it, without the consequence of being considered a friggin’ scrooge! Plus, we don’t have the bickering over what originated from Christian truths vs. which pagan holidays have had evil influence (where is the Church Lady when needed most?).

Faith, family, friends and food are my focus, and in that order! Consider the Psalms and other scriptures which point to our faithful Creator’s provision. Consider too that family and community are His gifts to us for organization, structure and protection, based solely on unconditional love and sacrifice.

Our immediate families are on the east coast, Chicago and Germany, so we generally holiday together with friends like the Henderson’s (BBQ buddy Lee) right here in plain ole Plano, Texas. Hearing our kids bantering and catching up, and seeing the flow of their friends in and out of the house is really cool, not to mention the aromas associated with cooking, baking and smoking all sorts of food! We start off Thanksgiving Day with sausage gravy and biscuits (fodder for another post), skip lunch and then gorge late afternoon/early evening on turkeys prepared several ways, smoked ham and all the other major food groups.

Lee Henderson’s specialty is smoked ham (previous post) while mine is brined and smoked turkey. The web has many variations of brines posted, but I really like just a few. This year I am doing a modified version of one submitted to “Saveur” magazine. Trust me on this and do the following:

1 cup kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
1 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
4 juniper berries, crushed
4 allspice berries, crushed

Combine dry ingredients in a 12-qt. pot, or large brining bag. Add 1 1/2 gallons cold water and stir. Squeeze lemons and oranges into the brine and add the squeezed halves. Submerge turkey in brine, breast down. (Weight the turkey down with dinner plates if necessary.) Cover pot with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or store in a cooler with ice. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and let come to room temperature.

Load up the smoker with a heap of Kingsford charcoal (burns best evenly for extended periods). Once the coals are gray, open the vents all the way, put the bird on the grate over the water pan, add hickory chunks, close her up and get a cup of coffee.

About every hour or so baste the turkey with a mixture consisting of a splash of red wine mixed with olive oil. About eight hours later you have smoked a beautiful bird with absolutely moist, tender and flavorful meat. Enjoy while giving thanks.


Filed under Brine, Indirect, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber