November 24, 2011 by staff
Brining Turkeys, How do you cook a turkey, the central piece of the Thanksgiving holiday meal? There’s one simple preparation that regardless of how you cook the turkey that will make it turn out much better. Simply brine your turkey beforehand. Here’s how.
What is brining? Brining is the process by which you create a brine, or a salt marinade with other flavorings as well, in which you soak your turkey (or other meats) to infuse the meat tissues with flavor by breaking down the proteins. And, sure, you can get pre-brined turkeys from stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but the opportunity to control the taste that gets injected into your bird is an advantage you may not wish to outsource. Also, places such as Williams-Sonoma sell brining mix.
However, you may not wish to miss the chance to do this from scratch, as it could yield amazing results. Smokin’ Okie’s Holiday Turkey Brine is a good one for home chefs to try; once you taste the results, you can refine the brine recipe more to your taste.
The brining process itself is simple. Again, specialty stores want to sell you “brining bags” for about $10; any big, clean plastic bag will do. Start with a large bucket or pan, big enough for the bird plus more, then line it with your clean plastic bag. Insert the turkey, then pour in the brine. If your fridge is big enough to hold it, great; if not, your “bucket” of choice can be a large cooler, into which you’d also need to put enough ice to last at least 12 hours (our recommended brine time). Check periodically during the process to make sure the ice is still whole; if not, add more.
The next step could be applying a rub; you also need to figure out if you’re going to oven-roast it or smoke it or even deep fry it. But regardless of what you do next to your turkey, brining is easy and makes for a moist, flavorful, and unforgettable Thanksgiving bird.
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