Brining a turkey.
This year I'm going to be hosting Thanksgiving. I am going to break family tradition and brine my turkey with a recipe courtesy of Alton Brown (yes I saw that episode yesterday too). He recommends brining the turkey for 6 hours. My problem is that I won't be home all morning and would probably have to leave the turkey in the brine for at least 12 hours. Is it possible to over-brine a turkey?
Yes, it is possible to overbrine, especially if you are using a brine that has a lot of salt in it. Overbrined poultry ends up tasting too salty and often, a bit chemically, so I'd try to avoid it if possible. You can always take it out of the brine after the designated length of time and keep it refrigerated for several hours before cooking, without loss of flavor. Either that, or look for a brine recipe that calls for a longer brine. I know I've seen recipes that call for overnight brining.
I used Alton's method last year, and left the brine in for about 10-ish hours... I put it in late the night before and took it out first thing the next morning... it worked great.
It really depends on how big the turkey is and how strong the brine is - a bigger turkey takes longer. I usually cook a, say 16 lb bird and brine it overnight, out under my stoop, in a big canner., pulling it out at 11 or 12 am (so about 12 hrs) I dont even measure the salt any more - probably use avout 1/3 of the kosher box. So if you have anything but a small bird, I definitely wouldn not sweat the longer period. Be sure to wash out the bird after, to get out any salt that might have gotten into it. Too, you can reduce the amount of salt in the brine if you are really worried.
Brine it the day before and let it dry on a rack in the fridge after rinsing off any surface salt/sugar. This will lead to a crispier skin. Alternatively look up pre-salting in CI or the LA times website