No, it’s not Thanksgiving silly. It’s April. Also known as turkey hunting season in certain paradigms.

My very first hunt was for turkey. It was deep in the Arkansas delta, on a three-thousand acre hunting preserve that runs five miles up the length of the great Mississippi. It was Spring, early on a Saturday morning after a night of imbibing aged Scotch and smoking cigars on a wide veranda with some well-heeled country folk that liked to live well, and take no prisoners, at least as far as food was concerned. I didn’t bag an old gobbler that morning, but it was an incredible hunt, and it was forever imprinted on my brain.

Turkey hunting seems to fall into a special category because of what a challenge it can be to bring one home.

Take this turkey for example:

I went to shoot clay last week and he was strutting around the range mocking everyone. I swear I saw him smile.

If they could smell as well as they could hear or see, we would probably be destined to putting a lot of chicken in our turkey recipes, or relying on the meat aisle of the grocery store a little too much. And so when you do manage to take an old gobbler home with you, you want to take advantage of this opportunity and prepare the meat in the best way possible.

Brining is an old-fashioned technique that involves soaking meat or poultry in a flavorful saltwater solution to enhance its moisture and taste. Despite the saltiness of the brine, the food doesn’t taste salty when it’s cooked, no, it is tender and succulent. This technique also works for pork chops and I would argue brining is a must for them as well as for turkey meat.

You’ll need a container bigger than the meat so you can keep it submerged in the liquid, which means you’ll need something to weigh it down as well—often times a plate works. As long as you have the crucial ingredients—salt, sugar, and water—you can play around with the rest of the flavors. Things like lemon rind, tarragon, parsley, and onion would all be good in this basic recipe.

So after you bag your gobbler, dunk him in this solution and see how much better he tastes.

Give this recipe a try sometime soon. Then call me from the dinner table and tell me what you think.

(And if you have to use chicken, it’s okay, no one is watching).

“Turkey Brine”

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time12 hrs
Total Time12 hrs 15 mins


  • "Turkey Brine”
  • 16 cups water
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • Peel of 1 lemon


  • Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Add meat and submerge, cover with a weight so it stays completely submerged in liquid.
  • For a whole turkey refrigerate in brine for 24 hours, for breasts, refrigerate for 12.
  • Remove and pat dry and let rest on a rack for at least 3 and up to 24 hours before cooking.