Crab Boil in Turkey Brine - How Much?

TulsaJeffOctober 18, 2002

I am wanting to use some Zatarains crab boil in my turkey brine but am not sure how much to use. I lived in Louisiana for 5 years and very much like the hot spicy flavor but I do not want to overdo it either.

Anyone have any ideas on how much to use with 3 gallons water and 3 cups of kosher salt?

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Tulsa Jeff, That sounds like a lot of salt to brine a turkey with. I know that most recipes call for more than one cup of Kosher salt but that is what I now use. Then I brine for 18 to 24 hours and I find that this is enough time and salt to really flavour the turkey, plus it will allow me to make gravy that isn't too salty. I found that when I used more salt that the gravy was just too salty. I also add a bunch of garlic cloves, sprigs of rosemary, parsley, and black peppercorns. I am not familar with the crab boil seasoning, but I am going to assume that there is salt in it as well.

I did a 16.5 pound turkey last Sunday for our Canadian Thanksgiving and the one cup of salt and the flavour was perfect throughout the bird.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 12:44PM
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I do admit that sounds like a lot of salt and perhaps it is, but the recipe called for 1 cup per gallon and it requires 3 gallons of liquid. This is my first time with Turkey although I have been smoking cornish hens with great success for quite a while now. The cornish hens require 1 gallon of water for 4 of them and I use 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar or molasses. They turn out perfect consistently but beyond cornish hens I am not an expert when it comes to poultry.

I do appreciate the advice and as you have more experience on turkeys than I do I will adjust the salt to your recommendations.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 1:23PM
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I never measure the water. I dissolve the salt and add enough to water just to cover the turkey or chicken. If you are going to brine for less than 10 hours, then you might want to use slightly more salt. I find that I can brine a chicken in less than 6 hours with one cup of salt. I know that a number of recipes also call for sugar or molasses and I guess this is a matter of personal taste, but I never add anything sweet because I do not like my meat to have a sweet taste.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 8:17PM
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Ok... To give a rundown of what I did this weekend regarding my smoked turkey and the results I acheived....

Brined the 10.87 lb turkey for exactly 15 hours in 2 gallons of water, 2 cups salt, 2 cups sugar and 3 TBS of Zattarains liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil concentrate.

I started smoking at 9:30 Saturday morning with mesquite (that is all I had available) and was able to maintain the temp between 245° and 275° even though it was raining and there was quite a bit of wind. I turned the turkey 3 times during the process and finished up at about 3:15 when the turkey reached 168 in the thigh and 172 in the breast. The temp raised a little during rest before carving but not as much as I had anticipated.

The result: undoubtedly the best turkey I have ever eaten and juicy throughout with no over-saltiness. Even the breast meat, which is normally way too dry for me and must be baptized in gravy before I will eat it, was extremely tasty and not dry at all.

The only thing I would change next time is to add more crab boil. You could taste it in the meat if yuou closed your eyes and really focused on the flavor but I wanted it to be a little more dominant than that. Next time I will add 6 TBS of Crab boil instead of 3 and see if that is any better.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2002 at 9:40AM
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This sounds like it makes a really juicy turkey. Can you brine the turkey and cook it regular, in the oven? Or, is this only for smoking? I would like to try brining, if you can do this for oven roasting. Can you tell me the steps?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 1:12PM
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Yes, you can cook a brined turkey in the oven. Go to Alton Brown's website for everything you need to know about brining.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alton's place

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 4:34PM
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I mention in one of the above posts how I brine my turkeys and chickens that I am roasting. Makes for a very tender moist turkey. The salt premeates the meat and each slice is full of flavour.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 9:04PM
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Thanks for the responses. But, to a culinary dummy, I need step by step instructions. I tried the Alton Brown website, but couldn't find where I needed to go.

What kind of pot do you put the turkey in to brine? Does it sit in the fridge during this process?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 6:28AM
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Basically you want to use the smallest container possible, however... all I have is a big 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot so I have been using that and it works well.

I purchased a turkey with no additives, basting, or injections and labeled as "minimally Processed". I removed all of the giblets, neck, etc. and washed it real good under cool water. I then laid it on the counter for a few minutes while I mixed the brine. I estimated it would take 2 gallons of water to cover my turkey and I was correct. I added 2 cups of kosher salt and 2 cups of sugar to the mix and I stirred it for about 5 minutes to make sure everything was dissolved. I added 3 TBS of Zattarains shrimp and crab boil which is basically oil from thyme, margoram, bay, and several other spices. As I said before, I will double the crab boil next time since I could barely tell it was there during eating it. I then submerged the turkey into the brine mix and put a heavy plate on top of the turkey to help it remain submerged since it has a tendency to float.

I then removed one of the shelves from my fridge and put the whole bucket inside to kjeep it below 40°. If your fridge is too small you can also just keep ice packs down in the water to keep it cold.

exactly 14 hours later you are ready to smoke or roast the turkey.

Let me know if you have any questions... I am not an expert but this is what I did after much research and it came out perfectly.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 10:04AM
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I bought a Rubbermade container with a lid to use for brining turkeys. If you have a large enough pot or bowl that will work as well. Remember what ever container you use, it will have to be able to fit in the fridge. When the weather gets colder you can also sit the covered container on a porch or garage, as long as the temp is below 40, but above freezing.

Dissolve 1 to 2 cups of Kosher salt in a cup or two of boiling water. Add cold water. I also like to add 10 or 12 peeled and cracked garlic cloves, some sprigs of rosemary, one tablespoon of black peppercorns, and some parsley sprigs. Add the turkey and more water,enough to cover. Place in fridge or a cold place and brine for 12 to 18 hours. Some like to add honey or sugar to the brine. I don't add this as i do not want to impart a sweet taste to my meat.

Remove from brine and dry turkey well. I roast all my turkeys on the High heat method, (Barbara kafka's Roasting Cookbook).

Note: I prefer to use only one to one and half cups of salt, depending on how large the turkey is and on how long I intend to brine. I find that if you use more than this then the gravy will be too salty.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 10:13AM
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It is a real shame this forum is going to subscriber service only. I like a lot of others realize there are thousands of nice forums on the net where you do NOT have to pay and we will most likely be going elsewhere to spread and collect tips and ideas.

The real shame is that I just found this forum. Oh well.

Maybe catch some of you in other forums now and then. Adios.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 4:01PM
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Ann_T, Is there another forum focussing on Pacific Coast BBQ issues? I'm at a loss.
Thanks Tulsa Jeff for your input and the hints on this thread. BTW there is a Chinese prawn recipe called "crystal Prawns" where you sprinkle 1lb of very large butterflied prawns with 1ts each of salt and baking soda then leave for 2 hours. Then you rinse and soak them in a bowl of water for at least 6 hrs. Finally coat them with a mixture of oil and cornstarch, and stir-fry them in a wok, adding vegetables (roasted pepper strips & onion) and black bean sauce. The prawns really swell up and it seems similar to the brining process. Any thoughts on this?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 5:32PM
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Sorry technimac, Not that I am aware of.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 10:22PM
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This weekend I tried "Cedar-planked Salmon" and used the thick end of local untreated shingles which I cut into about 4x8" pieces, planed them smooth (also to expose fresh cedar), and soaked overnight. I heated them on the grill (at med temp) until they started to "brown" and then sprinkled salt on each "Plank". I placed the 2x6" salmon filets skin side down on each of these and brushed them with a shallot/roasted tomato/lemon marinade. They went on the upper shelf while only the bottom middle burner was set on medium with a double foil alder smoke pack above it. It took about 20-25 mins, but during that time I rotated the planks to ensure even cooking/smoking. Nice result! Local Costco's usually have high-quality (ok, so it's farmed) salmon.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2002 at 12:59AM
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