YOUR EARLY BIRD BRINED TURKEY WILL BE A HIT WITH YOUR GUESTS!
Remember for Thanksgiving week, Go-Time for brining with Early Bird is Monday morning! The brine works a special kind of magic on turkey. And it really kicks in from 48 to 72 hours. That’s why we’re starting so early.
Be sure to have your frozen turkey thawed by Sunday night. You can speed-thaw one on Sunday in your sink with cold running water. This will take 3-6 hours depending on size. Alternately, you could begin thawing a frozen bird on Thursday in your fridge and it should be thawed by Monday morning when you need it. A fresh bird works great, too. I’ve found, however, that it does not matter if the bird has a solution in it or is all-natural. With Early Bird I’ve had great results with both.
1 Turkey, 14-16lb
Early Bird brine, full bottle
Chicken Scratch rub or other seasoning
3 Qts water
6 Qts ice
Brining container (bags or bucket)
Instant read thermometer
Extra fridge space or cooler
For a whole turkey, mix entire bottle of Early Bird into 3 qts boiling water. Whisk it for a minute to dissolve the sugar and salt. (For breast-only, use half recipe)
Ready your brine container with 6 qts ice. The melted ice is part of the solution ratio and will cool the brine down so the turkey can be added to it immediately.
Now add your turkey to the brine. It should be fully submerged. Allow it to brine for 72 hours. This is why it’s called Early Bird, after all : ) Turkey breast-only brine time is 48 hours. Your brine container can go in your refrigerator or you can alternately cover the container with ice in a cooler. Add ice as needed.
Press down on the breast (like CPR) and make sure the turkey is spread out flat. Ideally some bones will break when you do this. Slip your fingers between the skin and breast meat and create a big pocket on both breasts. Shake some Chicken Scratch into each pocket then rub it in. Next, season the rest of the bird. No need to oil the skin first, since the bird is still a little damp with brine.
Ready your smoker or grill for indirect cooking at 275° and use split pecan, apple or cherry on your offset smoker or 4 baseball size chunks on your grill. When your pit or grill is up to temp add the turkey. Depending on the size of your turkey, the cooking time will be 1.5 – 2.5 hrs.
Check the temp in the thickest part of the breast starting at an hour so you know what’s going on. When the internal breast temp is 148°, drizzle some honey and brush it evenly over the turkey. Let the grill temp rise as high as 400°. This will crisp up the skin and make the color amazing! Remove to a platter to rest once internal temp hits 158°. Rest at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!