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Christmas Cooking Tips from the Skibo Chefs Part Five: Rob Reveals How & Why to Brine Your Turkey

Posted: 16 December 2019

As Christmas Day fast approaches, for many of us thoughts turn inevitably towards turkey and so in this fifth part of our month-log series of Chriostmas cooking tips from the Skibo chefs, Rob Aske reveals how (and why!) you should brine your bird this festive season.

Sous Chef Rob is a born-and-bred Highlander, hailing from nearby Helmsdale. He has been an integral part of the Skibo kitchen team for the last 7 years, helping to craft the modern, locally-sourced and internationally-inspired dishes on the menu at the club.

Rob Aske, Sous Chef at The Carnegie Club

Rob Aske, Sous Chef at The Carnegie Club

“Brining is the most important thing you can do for your turkey this Christmas,” says Rob. “It’s the difference between tucking into a turkey that’s deliciously moist and juicy, or one that’s dry.” Turkey is a very lean meat with little fat, which makes it a healthy choice but can also lead to the meat drying out during the cooking process. “Brining the bird helps the meat to retain moisture during cooking, and also seasons it.” To add seasonal flair, Rob adds a selection of herbs and spices to his recipe which give the meat a delicate, festive aromatic.

As for choosing your turkey, Rob recommends buying a locally reared bird. “You should know where your turkey came from – there’s a huge difference in quality between a mass-produced bird and one that has roamed free.”


Makes 5 litres (enough for a family-sized turkey)


1 turkey
5 litres water
250g salt
125g sugar
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
15 cloves
Peeled zest of 3 clementines
1 cinnamon stick
20 black peppercorns
Bouquet of fresh thyme


  1. Add water, salt and sugar to a large saucepan and bring to the boil to make the brine.
  2. In a separate pan place star anise, bay leaves, cloves, peeled zest, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and thyme.
  3. Pour the brine mixture over the aromatics and allow to cool.
  4. In a large container, place the uncooked turkey and pour over the cooled brine mixture.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  6. Remove the turkey and pat dry. Let rest for 2-3 hours.
  7. Cook turkey according to instructions and enjoy your flavoursome, juicy roast!


Other Posts

Christmas Cooking Tips from the Skibo Chefs Part Six: Eddie’s Boxing Day Leftovers Recipe

In the final part of our month-long seasonal series, ‘Christmas Cooking Tips from the Skibo Chefs’, Chef de Partie Eddie Brown reveals his go-to Christmas leftovers recipe.

Christmas Cooking Tips from the Skibo Chefs Part Four: Abe’s Alternative to Turkey

In the fourth part of our month-long series of Christmas cooking tips from the Skibo chefs, Abe Michaelides suggests you forgo the traditional turkey with his vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free Indian-inspired alternative.

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