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Author Topic: Turkey brining  (Read 4190 times)

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Turkey brining
« on: October 28, 2012, 10:08:50 AM »
I've never brined a turkey before. I think I want to try it this year. From what I've seen, the standard brine is 1 cup of salt per gallon of water, but the recipes I've seen have many different varieties of other things they put in.

What are your brining tips and tricks? Oh, and my turkey is about 22 pounds.
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Valentines Mommy

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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 10:24:25 AM »
I posted a brine recipe back in 2009 in the recipe folder. It is one of my favorites.

I always liked the resulting bird. I found them very juicy. I do caution against using a Butterball or standard supermarket turkey. Most of them have been injected with broth or salt solutions, which would make for a very salty turkey.

You have a big bird. I would invest in some very large brining bags. I get mine at Williams and Somoma but I have seen some very large Ziplocs that could work. The bird and the brine should take up half the bag.

Get a large ice chest if fridge space is a premium. Full the bottom with ice. Prepare your brine and bird. Close the bag tightly, squeezing all the air out. Put the brine bag on to of the ice and cover with more ice. Turn the brine bag every so often and replenish ice as needed. A bird that size can brine as long as 48 hours. Rinse the bird well when you remove it from the brine and season as you desire.

When going to cook the bird, dry the skin very well or else it won't crisp well. I don't recommend stuffing a brined bird as the juices and salt will get into it and make the stuffing very salty.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 10:26:08 AM »

This is Alton Brown's method which is what I use, minus the cinnamon stick in the aromatics. For some reason I can't stand the smell of cinnamon cooking with savory foods.

I've gotten a nice moist turkey out it every year.

Oh and Pod the previous poster, keep the stuffing out of the bird. I bake it in a separate pan and baste it with turkey drippings while it's cooking.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 10:53:50 AM »
I use the AB brine found above as well.  You can leave out any (or all) of the aromatics and it will still be a pretty good brine.  I make the brine about a week ahead of time, so it has plenty of time to cool off before I have to use it.

For a 22 pound bird, I would brine 24-48 hours.

In order to ensure nice, crispy skin, I pull the bird from the brine right before bed the night before I am going to cook it.  I give it a quick rinse (inside and out) and pat it dry.  Then I put it on a cooling rack on a sheet pan and stick it in the fridge overnight to really let the skin dry out.  Air drying the skin overnight seems to really help prevent soggy skin.

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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2012, 11:07:52 AM »
I third the suggestion of AB recipe.  I switch out candied ginger for fresh and add red pepper flakes in as well.  I use a 5 gallon bucket and weigh the turkey down with a few bricks.  We have an enclosed patio so it goes outside at night and come in during the day to keep it cold.

For baking I put all of my aromatics in a cheesecloth bag.  I add thyme, bay leaves, marjoram, basil, carrots, celery, and chopped garlic to the aromatic recipe.  I also use clarified butter instead of canola oil. If you have a store near you that sells indian food, I use gheet.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 12:18:10 PM »
I've also used the Alton Brown brine recipe several times. It makes a fantastic turkey. In my case, since it's just my husband and I, we usually just cook a turkey breast (and maybe add a drumstick or two if we really want the dark meat), so I've had to modify the actual roasting part of the recipe a little. It makes a fantastically juicy turkey, particularly the white meat. I never actually liked the white meat until I made my own with this method -- it's better both because the brine makes everything delicious and because Alton Brown tells you how to not overcook it. :)

Since I've never had a whole bird, and thus never really have a cavity, I always make stuffing separately. I like it better when it's a little crispy on top, anyway. Plus, when you stuff a turkey, you make getting everything to a safe temperature without overcooking it more complicated, so I've never been inclined to do it.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 12:45:45 PM »
I've used the Cooking Light Apple Cider Brine Recipe for years.  It's my favorite, as well as the Gravy recipe.

For brining bags, I actually use two Reynolds Browning bags double bagged inside a large Stock pot.  Recently I've noticed grocery stores selling 'brining bags' but they seemed a little pricey, you can get Reynolds Browning bags on sale, or there are coupons.

Regardless of where I spend Thanksgiving, I ALWAYS do a turkey dinner at home just for us :)


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 05:00:31 PM »
I used the recipe that Emeril Lagasse recommended when he was still on the Food Network. The first time I tried it I forgot to rinse the turkey after I removed it from the brine. I just dried and roasted. That was one salty turkey, but I learned my lesson. I think the last time I did it I used the Alton Brown recipe.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 08:03:13 PM »

Be sure to use a recipe that gives a *weight* for the salt, not a volume measurement. The actual amount of salt can more than double if you use different types of salt and measure by the cup, depending on the grain size.


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Re: Turkey brining
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2012, 11:30:21 AM »
I've used the Honey Brined Turkey with Giblet Gravy on since it came out in '99.  I brine between 14 and 18 hours.

I've used other brining recipes and ended up with very salty turkey drippings after roasting.  Never figured out why.  Best advice is to taste your drippings before using it to make gravy. 

I do make the turkey stock as recommended but I don't add the meat back in to the gravy.