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Nov 17, 2004 12:55 PM

OY! Another brining question: possible to brine AND make pan gravy?

  • c

This may have been tangentially covered in previous threads, but I wanted to ask this very focused question now that countdown to T-giving is here.

I've decided that I'd like to brine and oven roast--no deep fry experiment this year. I'll either be getting a fresh turkey from my local Nob Hill Foods or a Diestel turkey (oy! another decision), around 18 lbs. However, I'm ONLY willing to brine if I can also use the pan drippings for a gravy base (this is NON-NEGOTIABLE, so not interested in alternatives thank you).

So, I'm wondering if others have achieved this goal and how exactly you did it. Seems logical to reduce salt concentration of a regular recipe, but I was afraid that brining would be compromised then. If you can include a link or refer me to a detailed resource, I (and my whole family) will be most grateful! Thank you and I wish everyone a wonderful holiday w/ undoubtedly good food!

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  1. k
    King of Northern Blvd.

    Yes! you definately can make a gravy from the pan drippings of a brined turkey....I do it every year. I won't go into details about recipe cause it's just the usual stock etc....

    7 Replies
    1. re: King of Northern Blvd.

      You give me hope, but heard that brining makes the pan drippings WAY too salty to use as a gravy base. To clarify for you and others, I'm not looking for a gravy recipe, but more for a salt-water ratio recipe for the brining. Thanks.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        The SF Chronicle addressed this very issue in their Thanksgiving Food section today - they reduced the salt slightly in their Chez Panisse-inspired brine and included a gravy recipe for brined birds.

        for the brine:
        1 1/2-1 3/4 cups kosher salt

        2 1/2 gallons cold water


        1. re: Celeste

          Oh my gosh, thank you so much, Celeste! I get the Mercury so had no idea about the Chronicle's guide. I have 2 of their books w/ their recipe collections, so I totally trust this source. I even have a new box of the Diamond brand salt they recommend. Thanks for the link to the gravy recipe. They have a great general T-giving guide which I linked for others below.

          Of course, if others have their own tried-and-true methods or modifications, then please keep those suggestions comin'.


          1. re: Carb Lover

            This recipe uses chicken broth that contains salt (even if its lo sodium). Don't adjust your brine to deal with the gravy when you are adding more salt from the cans of broth. Just use real stock (there are products, like demi-glace gold glace de poulet, that has no salt at all).

            Brining produces drippings that have salt in them, but it isn't too salty. If you use real chicken stock, and simply don't add salt, then you will be fine.

            1. re: rudeboy

              Propoer brining should NOT make the bird taste noticeably salty.
              Just remember that its essential to wash the bird off inside and out thoroughly before cooking. that will avoid having residues of salt in the cavity, etc to spoil the dish. I have brined for years,and even salted the exterior and never had a problem with salty gravy or a noticeably (to me) salty bird. I use unsalted broth - the old neck, giblet,and some veg cooking away on the stove is certainly standard, and economical.

              1. re: jen kalb

                Thank you so much for explaining this! I'm a long time turkey briner and I've never had a problem with salty gravy. In fact, I didn't even realize it was supposed to be a problem until I read about it.

                For the gravy, I use the Poultry Pan Gravy recipe from the Joy of Cooking. It never, and I mean never fails to come through.

        2. re: Carb Lover
          King of Northern Blvd

          Sorry, misunderstood....I've done 1 cup of Kosher salt, 1 cup sugar, 1 bunch fresh sage and 1bunch of fresh thyme along with 3 tb of cracked black pepper. Simmered it in 1 1/2 gal water for 10 min and strained. That is my brine. Never found gravy to be too salty..

      2. I have done it, and I find the gravy to be incredibly salty, but no one else does, so it must be me.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Amy

          Last year, I ate my first brined turkey. Both the turkey and gravy were salty to me.

          1. re: Alan408

            You need to rinse the bird very thoroughly after removing it from the brine.

        2. Thanks to all who have responded. I'm feeling much more confident about brining w/o having to throw out the pan drippings, which are like gold to me.

          One follow up question: have people found that brining takes away from the skin crisping up compared to an unbrined bird? I believe a poster on another thread mentioned that he/she lets the turkey sit in a container in the fridge for 24 hrs. post-brine to let the skin dry out a bit. Would you recommend this? Is this really necessary? Thanks once again!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Carb Lover

            Yes, I would recommend drying the bird at least overnight to crisp up the skin. After brining, rinse the bird throughly and use a paper towel to pat it dry. Place the bird on a wire rack over a cookie sheet in the fridge until ready to roast the next day.

            Try Cook's Illustrated's turkey help website for your Thanksgiving questions. It has tips on brining (different brands of kosher salt require different amounts, etc.), drying, etc.

            I think you have to register (free).


            1. re: Carb Lover

              I had mentioned that I did this and I think it makes a HUGE difference in both the browning and the crispiness of the skin. Ideally its best to let it sit for 24 hours but in a pinch one year I only let it sit in the fridge for 8-9 hours and its worked well.

              1. re: Carb Lover

                I did this air drying thing in the frig one year on the advice of Cook's Illustrated and I couldn't tell the difference. I mean if you're roasting a turkey for 3+ hours in a low profile pan how could the skin NOT get crispy?

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  A radio food personality (Melinda Lee) in LA says that air drying the turkey the extra day also allows the brine to penetrate evenly into the turkey...