Skip to main content

John Boehner, king of the turkey brine?

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Producer
updated 8:48 PM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
Processed turkeys that were raised on the farm are seen at Springfield Farm in Sparks, Maryland.
Processed turkeys that were raised on the farm are seen at Springfield Farm in Sparks, Maryland.
  • House Speaker John Boehner is famous for the way he prepares a Thanksgiving turkey
  • He learned the technique from his mother
  • Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, however, says, "I'm cooking nothing"

Washington (CNN) -- Move over Martha Stewart -- House Speaker John Boehner boasts his recipe for brining turkey is the key to a delicious Thanksgiving feast.

The Speaker is spending the holiday with his wife, Debbie, their two daughters and their husbands at his home in West Chester, Ohio.

As is the family tradition, Boehner will prepare dinner, and the centerpiece is a turkey that soaks up juices in a special brine - a Boehner specialty he learned from his mother.

Watch Boehner's Thanksgiving message

In an essay published in this week's Time Magazine about Thanksgiving, the Speaker says he's looking forward to cooking, writing: "It will be wonderful to spend a few days with our two daughters and make what I consider to be the best turkey brine around."

The dinner takes advance preparation and Boehner begins the process the day before.

He mixes garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves and maple syrup (what he calls the secret ingredient) and then adds that to water to make the brine. He then submerges the bird in the brine overnight.

Boehner's Washington staff can attest to the Speaker's skills at preparing the holiday feast.

For years, he invited his aides to his Capitol Hill apartment and used the same brine recipe to serve up an early Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, a Boehner aide says the schedule was too busy, so he didn't have time to cook for them.

By the numbers: Thanksgiving

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is also spending Thanksgiving with his family.

But when it comes to the dinner Reid is less hands on than Boehner, telling reporters: "I'm cooking nothing."

In addition to the turkey, Boehner also makes his own stuffing and creamed spinach that includes bacon.

His office has posted the recipes on the Speaker's political website.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade coming with a side of controversy

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
turkey head
When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies, dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.
updated 4:01 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
If a reservation feels like the best thing you could make for Thanksgiving dinner this year, you're not alone.
updated 6:02 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
As we all know, Thanksgiving isn't always the harmonious holiday it's sometimes made out to be.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
With a storm threatening the East Coast, travelers are starting to wonder whether they'll even get to the dinner table on time.
updated 12:07 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Want to make Norman Rockwell roll over in his grave? This Thanksgiving, make some new traditions with friends and family.
updated 9:52 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Tofurky and its competitors are a far gobble from a real bird. But add some stuffing and gravy and many agree you have an equally worthy Thanksgiving centerpiece.
updated 2:03 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
pumpkin pie
Our goal is to send you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact. It can happen.
updated 2:12 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
The stakes couldn't be higher for making a perfectly bronzed and juicy turkey. Don't take chances -- we'll show you exactly how.
updated 2:01 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Looking for the perfect mac and cheese recipe to wow your family? Try these.
updated 1:45 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
vegan Thanksgiving
Chances are you have a vegan in your life. And perhaps that vegan is threatening a visit to your Thanksgiving table this year. Don't be scared.
updated 8:44 AM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
My mother, brother, cousin and I gathered in my 87-year-old grandmother's room at the nursing home. We knew it would be one of the last times we would see her alive.
updated 5:14 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Everything you need to know about this November holiday.
updated 11:14 AM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year, with tens of millions expected to hit the road over the extended four-day weekend.
updated 8:51 AM EST, Thu November 21, 2013
Martha Stewart lends some great ideas for the center of your Thanksgiving table.
updated 7:58 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Here's some background information about Thanksgiving Day, celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.
updated 6:10 AM EST, Mon November 19, 2012
These clever strategies will help you handle Thanksgiving with less stress and more sanity.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Mon November 19, 2012
What topics do you avoid over dinner? How do you coordinate visiting all of your relatives? Real Simple breaks it down.