Add extra flavour to winter squash or poultry this Thanksgiving by brining! It’s an easy technique that adds delicious flavour to roasted winter squash and extra moisture to poultry. Here I’ve use Our Sweet Apple Chai to create a brine (recipe follows) for vegan roasted squash that adds incredible flavour to a winter favourite but it doubles equally as well for roast turkey. Halved squash can be filled with a cranberry apple stuffing for an amazing main or side dish. Either way the taste is heavenly!
Spiced Apple Chai Brine Concentrate Recipe
This concentrate can be made 1 week in advance or freeze for up to a month.
*1 Package of Sweet Apple Chai
* 8 cups of fresh cold water
* 3/4 cup kosher salt (do not use iodized table salt)
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
* Optional but recommended:
* 1/2 to 1 cup bourbon
* 3-4 sprigs of fresh sage and thyme
* Combine all the ingredients in a large pot (except herbs and spirits if using)
* Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar
* Turn off heat, add herbs and bourbon if using, cover and let sit for 2 hours
* Strain and refrigerate brine until needed
WHEN READY TO BRINE
* Pour brine concentrate into a large pot or brining bag
* Add large firm winter squash – halved, or whole turkey or chicken
* Fill with fresh ice-cold water (at least 12 additional cups or enough to cover squashes or bird)
REFRIGERATE IN BRINE FOR
* 45 minutes to 1 hour for each pound of squash or meat
Example: 4-pound squash for 3-4 hours or 12 pound turkey for 8-12 hours
* Remove squash or turkey from brine (discard brine) and rinse very well (or soak in fresh cold water for 15 minutes) to remove excess salt. Pat very dry. Continue on with your normal recipe for roasting (with the exception of no extra salt.)
* If only brining squash, brine can be refrigerated for 3-4 days and re used. Brine from brining any meat or poultry must be discarded immediately
* If you’re using squash, save the seeds before you brine and toss with a bit of salt and oil and roast at 350 until crisp. Great snack!
* Fill squash half with your favourite cranberry apple stuffing and roast at 375 until done. Finish with some cracked black pepper, toasted walnuts a drizzle with maple syrup.
* If you enjoy smoked foods, save the strained damp chai mix and create a smoke pouch. Simply add a few dry wood chips, dry bay leaves or dry tea to the wet chai, wrap in a foil pouch, poke holes into the pouch with a fork and you have ready to go smoke pouch. Think smoked winter squash drizzled with honey and roasted walnuts. Or smoked turkey or pork if you’re a meat eater.