Salt Brine
I decided that I would “salt brine” my turkey this year.  I took an 18 pound turkey and 2 cups of kosher salt.  Yes, kosher salt and 2 cups of it!!!  Rinse and pat dry your turkey.  Be sure and dry the cavities as well.  Lift the skin off the breast and thighs.  You want to be able to get your hand in there to salt it.  I spread the kosher salt all over the turkey, and put it in a large plastic bag and refrigerate over night.  
Next day, be sure you rinse your turkey really really well, to get all the salt off.  It’s ready to bake.  I thought it was the best tasting turkey (brined) that I have ever made.  It was moist and seasoned perfectly.  
Here are a few other brine ideas that are really worth doing.
Brine 2 whole chickens in  a 2 gallon bucket and immerse the chickens in the brine and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.  Rinse, pat dry and  and bake, rub with olive oil. Results are worth it.  You can add sage and lots of garlic in the brine and with adding other flavoring ingredients, you are really limitless.
You could also add juniper berries, allspice, mixed peppercorns, etc. If you buy the chicken one day ahead and brine it over night you should be fine as long as it is constantly kept cold.
 I use the Cooks Illustrated method from The Best Recipes: Grilling and Barbecue. I brine the breasts for 20 minutes and they only take 10 minutes on the grill with the grill cover down.  Or you could broil them in your broiler. The brine is 1/2C sugar, 1/2C Kosher salt in 1 qt. cold water for 4 boneless, skinless breasts. Be sure you use Kosher not table salt. The following recipe is really delicious.  You could also use whole chickens.
Lemon-Sage Turkey
4 cups kosher salt
1 each turkey, 12-14 pounds gross weight, rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon rind, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons thyme, dried
2 tablespoons sage, dried
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
2 16 oz. cans chicken broth, canned, low sodium
6 tablespoons butter, unsalted, melted
1. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons cold water in large stockpot, clean bucket or cooler. Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (about 40 degrees) or add ice packs (not ice) for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Remove turkey from salt water and rinse well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours. (This step is important - it results in a very crispy skin.)
3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Set v-rack in roasting pan and line with heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray the foil with vegetable cooking spray, then pierce 20-30 small holes in the foil with a paring knife.
1. Combine first 6 ingredients; set aside.
2. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Rub spice mixture under loosened skin and rub into body cavity.
3. Brush turkey breast with butter, then set turkey breast side down on full-lined V-rack. Brush back of turkey with butter. Pour one can of chicken broth into roaster. Roast 45 minutes.
4.Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush back with butter. Using thick wads of paper towels or pot holders, rotate turkey leg/wing side up. Check liquid and add more if needed. Roast 15 minutes.
5. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter, and using thick wads of paper towels or pot holders, rotate turkey second leg/wing side up,Check liquid and add more if needed, roast for 15 minutes longer.
6. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter and using thick wads of paper towels or pot holders, rotate turkey breast-side up. Check liquid in bottom of roaster and add more is necessary. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees and thickest part of thigh register 170-175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30-45 minutes longer.
7. Remove turkey from oven, reserve pan drippings to make gravy. Move turkey to cutting board.Cover turkey loosely with foil; let stand 20-30 minutes. Carve and serve with gravy if desired.
Cook's Illustrated did a Brining 101 in their latest issue (Nov/Dec 2001). They have a table showing a universal formula for brining. I'll try to duplicate it here.
Basic brine - Use 1 Qt cold water with 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 cup plus 2 TBS Morton kosher or 1/4 cup table salt. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Use 1 QT per pound of food not to exceed 2 gallons brine. Brine for 1 hour per pound (based on weight of single item not total amount of food), but not less than 30 minutes or more than 8 hours. Be sure to air dry the food in the fridge if you want crisp skin.
Go to this website for more information:
To one gallon water, add 1/4 cup salt (noniodized is best; iodized may impart a bitter taste),1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup molasses, plus watever seasonings you like; powdered onion, garlic, etc.  Submerge (and refrigerate) the chicken in the solution for 12 to 16 hours.  
Rinse well and roast as desired.  This works for boneless turkey breasts and other poultry parts as well.
This BOURBON BRINE is great for pork
I can’t remember where I got this one from (Cookinglight, Cooks Illustrated, Fine Cooking)  If I remember I’ll acknowledge them later.
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
3 cloves
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup hot water
2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons, walnut, hazelnut or vegetable oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for basting.
Rinse the pork chops under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.  Arrange the chops in a baking dish just large enough to hold them or in a resealable plastic bag.  Arrange the onion, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, allspice and cloves over the meat.
Make the brine:  combine the brown sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add the hot water and whisk until the brown sugar and salt are dissolved.  Stir in the cold water, bourbon and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Pour this mixture over the chops, turning the chops a couple of times to coat evenly.  Brine the chops, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, turning once or twice to ensure even brining.
When ready to cook, drain the chops, blot dry with paper towels.  Brush the chops on both sides with the remaining oil.  Grill.
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Salt Brine
Monday, November 27, 2006
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