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Private Chef Alex Reveals the Secret to Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

November 16th, 2011

If you’ve never brined your turkey before, you are missing out! Brining is an amazing process which actually seasons the meat from the inside, mitigates overcooking, helps maintain color, and aids in caramelization.

Brining is the key to a successful turkey on Thanksgiving day, and Chef Alex wants to share his recipe for a seasonal and delicious brine which will make your turkey juicy, moist, and succulent!

For a 12-16 pound bird:
1 gallon apple cider
2 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
1/4 cup corriander seeds, whole
2 Tablespoons fennel seeds, whole
4 each dried whole thai chilis
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 bulb garlic, cut in half
1 Tablespoon black pepper
3 sprigs thyme, fresh
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 piece fresh ginger, about 2 inches long, sliced
1 gallon ice water


To make the brine, heat the spices in a dry pan until fragrant, tossing to prevent burning, for about 3 minutes total. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large, place the cider, thyme, bay leaf, ginger, apples, onions, garlic, sugars, and salt. Place the pot over medium heat, and stirring frequently, cook until the sugars and salt are completely dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat, add the toasted spices and ice water and mix well. Allow to cool completely.

If your pot is large enough to fit the entire raw turkey and the brine, and fit in the fridge, then you are all set. If not, take a cooler or a clean garbage can, fill it halfway with ice, and then place a large trash bag over the ice, allowing room for the turkey. Place the turkey and enough brine to keep the bird completely submerged and tie the bag closed. If needed, replace the ice as it melts.

Brine the turkey for 36 hours, then drain completely, discarding used brine. Dry the turkey very thoroughly before roasting.

Enjoy your delicious and juicy turkey, and have a great Thanksgiving!

If you have any questions regarding the above recipe, feel free to email

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you, Alex, for the best method of getting a fool-proof turkey! You took away all anxiety and worry about this challenging annual event. I’ve been ruining turkeys for about fifty years, now, and I’m so glad that’ll be history for me! Love, Gamma

    Comment by Lenore Tishman — October 5, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

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