Turkey Brine

November 20, 2010 by staff 

Turkey Brine, Craig Laban chat excerpt online:

Reader: Make my bird on my Weber (propane) this year. Any advice? Is it necessary to brine? Do I always season and stuff like usual?

CL: Take a look at my story linked here ( on broiler turkeys. (Note: I now cook on a grill mine Big Green Egg, but Weber has served me well for many years), I used charcoal, but you can do with the gas, too, as long as you have enough burners for indirect cooking. I resist putting the stuffing in the bird on the grill – he cooked is tricky enough without additional insulation to slow down. Brining? It’s a must now, especially on the grill, because it makes the bird forgivingly juicy, regardless of how much you ate too much. There are a lot of salt into the meat from the brine, so go easy on the salt when seasoning the outside. Other seasonings (such as herbs de Provence or smoked paprika I use) should be applied liberally.

Reader’s recipe grilled turkey Craig is seriously impressive. I strongly suggest that what follows.

CL: That’s a good recipe – but I have always stressed out every year before lighting the charcoal. As a hedge against error, I added a new gadget in my grill – BBQ guru computerized thermostat automatically monitors the temperature of the grill and meat and controls the heat with a small fan. I’m giving it a test-run on the sternal region this weekend. . .

Reader: I too am a bird on the Big Green Egg this year, brining is a must. I also recommend it sat on a can of beer or turkey sitter! Yep – beer can turkey. God bless America. As for the wines of Thanksgiving, there seems to be an unlimited number of good red. What are some of your most memorable wines day Turkey? I debate between Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Black, and old (97) Cabin California that would have mellowed by now (but big enough to stand up to my beer can Turkey).

CL: The beer is always better things, but I go with what works, that my bird (about 20 pounds) is a bit too big for this kind of stand-up stunts. I can barely close the lid as it is. As for the wines of T-memorable day, the rules are wide open because of differing tastes of this meal, so I focused on the range. Your choice, I would go to the House, one of the great Oregon Pinots. I generally try to stay American and affordable (given the crowd), but I had success with sparkling wine (or Schramsberg Roederer Anderson Valley), semi-dry Riesling (CSM Eroica), spicy red zin (Renwood, Biale, Rosenblum, Ridge), Pinot (Rodney Strong, Drouhin, affordable Sebastiani), and sweet Madeira at the end. (Philly were great colonial Madeira; George Washington drank barrels of it.) But I would keep the car in the basement. Even well-aged, I think it will be lost on Turkey. Register now for New Year’s roast

Reader: For my Thanksgiving wine, I’ll start my meal with the FMC South Africa (Chenin best in the world) and finishing with Paradocx Vineyards Touriga!

CL: Those are great ideas, something with a touch of sweetness and acidity to start the meal, and taste of Portugal (Touriga) via the Chester County! Paradocx gives interesting wine, but I have not tried the Touriga. . . very intriguing, and exactly the kind of experimentation with alternatives to the usual suspects grape (cab, chard, etc.) required for local growers to find their niche.

Reader: For wine of Turkey Day, I had some classics in mind – or perhaps a Morgon Moulin à Vent (especially one I had recently, a 2009 Thibault Liger-Belair) and Soave Classico (perhaps one of Inama).

CL: Good ideas on Morgon and Moulin – two great examples of Cru Beaujolais (not that new light and fruity), a classic pairing with Thanksgiving just the right weight to deal with all the flavors without overwhelming part of the meal.

Reader: What is a good Chateauneuf du Pape for the T-day? (In fact, can not say I’ve never had a bad!)

CL: Yes, this is another common pairing Thanksgiving because Chateauneuf corresponds with Garnier flavors of the meal. (Giblet sauce and dark meat? Wild wild mushroom stuffing? Go Old Telegraph!) But if you want to keep the national theme, there are plenty of Cali Rhone Rangers. That’s why I thought of Tablas Creek, owned by the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel, which is one of my favorites of all time.

Reader: I was very happy that Garces Trading Co. pies for T-giving this year! Chocolate pecan bourbon black, pumpkin, ginger and my personal favorite apple sampling, maple bacon. Can I order a have for breakfast on Thursday morning!

CL: That’s a good suggestion – Garces has a skilled pastry department.

I just called TAG: apple maple bacon and 25, the other two are each 30. OK, Iron Chef, you will have more of my money.

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