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Too Cool? Boehner’s Thanksgiving Technique Falls Short of USDA Recommendation

Speaker John A. Boehner has helpfully shared his favorite recipe for Thanksgiving turkey brine. Interestingly, the Ohio Republican says in his YouTube video that he cooks his “bird to about 160, max.”  

We at HOH are assuming he is referring to the bird’s internal temperature. To each his own, but may we suggest the USDA’s advice? In a series of tweets, the Agriculture Department has provided some tips about safe Thanksgiving meals, including how to handle and store a turkey, as well as the temperature at which harmful bacteria is killed.

Also of note, the speaker says he rinses off his turkey, which is apparently unnecessary, according to USDA. That’s mostly because that splashes bacteria all over the place and cooking is the only way to kill all the harmful bacteria.  

Regardless of which temperature you settle on, government recommended or no, here are the basics of Boehner’s brine:


8 quarts water

6 bay leaves

2 cups Kosher salt

3 tbsp peppercorns

1 head of garlic

16 oz pure maple syrup

Bring the brine close to a boil, then let it cool.  Put a bag in a five-gallon bucket.  Wash the turkey and remove the insides.  Put the turkey in the bucket.  Pour the brine over to cover the turkey.  Keep the turkey submerged.  Let it stand overnight in the refrigerator or outside if it is cool enough.  After 24 hours, take it out and rinse it off.  At that point, it’s ready to be cooked.

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