I used Alton’s recipe for brining the turkey this year. I had never before brined a trukey at all and didn’t understand the process.
I have to say that was the most delicious turkey I have ever tasted, let alone made myself.
Just a quick wrap-up, I fried two turkeys on Thanksgiving Day…a 16 and a 10 pounder. The larger was brined in salt and brown sugar. The little one was injected with Italian dressing and left overnight. I’m sure timing had something to do with it, but the smaller bird was better. With a 10 pounder, it was easier to get the inside done without drying out the outer portions.
Thank you Ed – Rather belatedly, and I’m sorry for not thanking you last year. That site is awesome. Although I didn’t get the same results this year that I did last. Don’t know if it was because the turkey was bigger, or I used a different container, or just didn’t have enough brine, but it didn’t come out as moist as last year’s.
But anyway, that’s beside the point – thank you again, Ed, that link made my holiday!
The website you referred to is the one I posted last year and again just now from Melinda Lee. Glad you liked it!
This is the third year I’m following this recipe for brine. Everybody demands it—–they now say my turkeys are the best! My only changes are adding some herbes de provence to the brine (you could also just add some thyme and sage). My turkey is brining at this very moment!
Someone posted a link here last year to directions for brining a turkey. I tried it then with a pretty basic recipe, and couldn’t believe how moist the turkey was. This year, I did it again, using the recipe for "The Ultimate Brine" from that same website. My 20-lb. turkey is brining right now in a plastic bag inside a big cooler with ice all around it. The brine consists of apple cider, kosher salt, brown sugar, cloves, and peppercorns. (It’s supposed to have orange peel, too, but I forgot that. Oh well. Next year). The plan is to leave it in there, maybe turn it a couple of times, for 24 hours, then take it out tomorrow night and let it sit in the fridge until Thursday morning, when I roast it. Hopefully, the meat will be moist and the skin will be brown and crispy.
I just picked up a Kosher bird to avoid brining it myself, but if I can ever find a fresh and untreated bird I’ll try Brown’s recipe. If you can get to Cook’s Illustrated’s web site (http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastinghome.asp), they compare bird types and discuss brining. I don’t know if it’s kosher (so to speak), but I downloaded a couple of files to use later.
I have to second Lucky Bishop’s opinion.
I am so burnt out on fried turkey that last year I followed Alton Brown’s recipe/directions for brined turkey. It was without a doubt the best turkey I have ever fixed.
You know, I’ve had the deep-fried turkey, and I wasn’t impressed. By the time you factor in both the oil and the spices, it just doesn’t taste like turkey to me anymore. I don’t see the point. Brining the turkey is so successful for me that I now brine my roast chickens and pork loins too! It really does make a tremendous difference.
Basically, this is how I do it (as I said, this is all basically straight from Alton Brown on Good Eats): tomorrow, I’ll pick up my bird (a fresh organic 17-pounder from Bread and Circus) and stop by the hardware store on the way home for a paint bucket. It’s like four bucks. Bird goes in the fridge, bucket gets scrubbed out with a bleach solution followed by hot soapy water. (It’s food-grade plastic, this is just to get rid of any residual hardware store dust.) Then, about 5 p.m. tomorrow, I’ll make the base of my brine:
1 gallon vegetable broth
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon candied ginger
1 apple, quartered
1/2 stick cinnamon
Bring it all to a boil, kill the heat, cool to room temp, then refrigerate.
Tomorrow night around midnight, I’ll unpackage and rinse the turkey and remove the innards packet, and add it to the bucket with a gallon of water and ice and the brine. Because I live in Boston, I just stick this out in the mudroom with the probe from my thermometer buried in there to make sure it never gets above 40 degrees. (I’d stick it out on the back steps, but we get a lot of urban wildlife and it might not be there in the morning.)
About 8 a.m. on The Day, I’ll pull the bird, rinse it off to remove the excess brine, pat it dry with paper towels and return it to the mudroom (making sure it’s still under 40 degrees out there and none of the cats are in there) to dry for a couple hours. This helps crisp the skin a bit more. Around 11 a.m., I’ll prepare the stuffing, bring in the bird, stuff and otherwise prep the bird (including a rubdown with canola oil and the creation of a triangle of heavy foil to cover the breast) and throw it into a 500 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Then I’ll lower the heat to 350, insert the probe thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, put the triangle of foil over the breast, and cook the whole thing until the thermometer reads 161 degrees and an instant-read thermometer in the middle of the stuffing reads at least 155. (I usually nuke my stuffing for about 10 minutes before I put it in the bird to help make sure it gets properly up to temp.) While the bird rests, you defat the drippings and put together a nice gravy and then you’re done.
I did the whole brining thing one year and really didn’t get much out of it… now deep frying, that’s the only way to go!
Ditto on that. I also stuff the skin layer w/ stuffing and roast that way after brining. Great results after 3 years and no deep-fry oil to catch fire.
Yeah, basically those "self-basting" Butterballs are pre-brined, but in a straight salt solution that doesn’t bring any other flavors into the bird. I use Alton Brown’s brine from the "Romancing the Bird" episode of Good Eats, and have never had any complaints.
It seems that self basting turkeys do not need this procedure? I’ve never done it, but maybe that’s why what I have heard is "the turkey seems dry". Could be. Comments? Thanks, Paul, for the link.
What I hear you guys talking sounds like a common occurance, yet I do not know what brining a turkey is all about, and I have made turkeys for years. What is it, and why does one do it?
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