Brine That Turkey!

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turkey.jpgEvery year sometime around Christmas I'm guaranteed to get a few phone calls from friends and family asking "how to brine"  Why brine your birds some of you may be asking? Think of it as extra insurance for a juicy juicy bird, a properly brined and cooked bird will not need to be smothered in gravy, it will be juicy, and buttery with lots of flavour. If you've opted to bbq/smoke your bird this year, cooking it slow and low it's very important to brine your bird, you don't want your breast meat turning into sawdust do you?

Here's Some key points, Start off with a fully defrosted or fresh bird, Stay away from kosher birds as they already have a brothy salt mixture added to them, and your bird will end up to salty.  Remove all the offal parts (giblets) before brining.

Recipe after the jump
The easiest formula to memorize for brine is 1 gallon (16 cups) of water to 1 cup of non ionized (kosher is best) salt, and 1/2 dry sugar(brown, raw, white), or 1/4 cup of liquid sugar product (aquave syrup, maple syrup, honey) aromatics are optional, but i suggest always adding white peppercorns, and granulated garlic. 

here's my favorite turkey brine
16 cups water (1 us gallon)
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
zest from 3 oranges
1 tablespoon white peppercorns, whole
1 tablespoon granulated garlic.
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon ground sage
(optional - 1 finely minced habenero/scotch bonnet pepper)

To get started: combine salt, sugar, garlic and maple syrup with 4 cups of cold water. heat on stove top and stir until the dry ingredients dissolve.  Combine with 12 cups of ice cold water, and your brine is ready to use! You want to make sure that your brine is nice and cold and stays nice and cold for the duration of the brine, remember that poultry should never get warmer that 40f before cooking, between 40-140f is the breeding temperature for salmonella.
You are going to want to brine your turkey in a "non reactive" container, that means NO METAL!!! remember metal+salt+oxygen=rust=metal tasting bird!   I do a fair amount of brine so I have 8,16 and 24 Liter food grade plastic buckets from my local restaurant supply store.  I bet you have something that's already food grade though, your plastic cooler! Make sure you give your cooler a good wash with warm soapy water with and a little bleach.  Many grocery stores also carry brine bags as well, and Willlams-Somoma even has a whole kit that comes with the bag, and a fantastic dry brine mixture. When i brine birds at my parents house at christmas i just throw the turkey and brine into a garbage bag put the bag in a cooler, add a few ice packs and store the cooler outside the back door, it's cold here in Ontario around the holiday season so take advantage of the free refigerator.

How long should you brine for?
my general rule is 2-3 hours per pound of bird so a 12lb bird gets at least 24 hours
I never brine for more than 96 hours, regardless of the size of the bird.
 a 12lb bird is the best size for bbq or slow and low as it will cook faster and will not have a chance to dry out.  If you are cooking for large group and a 12lb bird is to small, i suggest getting 2 birds rather than getting a huge bird.

If you have you heart set on cooking a mutant 50lb turkey, and you really want to bbq it, you'll want to make sure your temperature is at least 325f in your q, and get your bird on early in the morning.

My Father bought my Mother a fantastic convection oven last year, so i'll be cooking my bird in the oven this year, but the brine rules stay exactly the same. 



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This page contains a single entry by Jason Rees published on December 18, 2008 10:55 PM.

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