I pulled together an email today for an internet friend who needed some brine recipes. I thought I would post the email here since it is all my best brine information all together in one area...
The most basic-no frills brine is a 1:1 ratio of kosher salt to water. So, it would be 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of water (not a true 1:1 but you know what I mean). You can make as much or as little of it as you need. Just dissolve the salt in the water and put your meat in. I put a plate on top with a canning jar with water and a lid on it to keep all of the meat under the brine. Keep it in the fridge, brining away, for up to about 12 hours. Take it out and cook as you would normally.
Now, that was the basic. You can add just about anything to this brine in the way of spices and herbs.
This is the holiday brine that I use. It is pricey to put together but I do it once a year for Thanksgiving and it makes the most amazing turkey ever! It is a Wolfgang Puck recipe. As a matter of fact because it was expensive, this is the brine that I put the extra turkey parts in after I got the Thanksgiving bird out just so I could make it a little more cost effective.
Brine:1 gallon water
1/2 ounce ground cloves
1/2 ounce ground ginger
4 ounces cracked black peppercorns
12 bay leaves
1 pound kosher salt
24 ounces honey
24 ounces maple syrup
In a large stockpot, bring the water, cloves, ginger, black peppercorn, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir in the honey and maple syrup until well blended. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold tap water. Reserve the neck and specialty meats for pan gravy. Set the turkey in the brine, making sure that the turkey is fully immersed in the brine. Place a weight on top of the turkey to make sure it is always covered with brine. Marinate for at least 4 hours to overnight, depending on the weight of the turkey, in the refrigerator.
This one from Alton Brown is also very good for turkey.
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.