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brining Turkey

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  • Offal Lover Nov 1, 2005 12:15 PM
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Anybody have a full-proof way of brining turkey before baking? I've cooked too many dry turkeys in my day and am sick of having to smother it in gravy to make up for the cardboard like texture.

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  1. b
    Bride of the Juggler

    I buy Empire Kosher Turkey (the koshering process of salting is very similar to brining) and bake it in one of those oven bags. It works very well to keep it moist. I also slide some whole sage leaves and garlic slices under the turkey skin for great flavor (and it looks nice too). I always wanted to try this with Meyer lemons but have never seen them at the right season. Thank you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bride of the Juggler

      I've bought Empire frozen turkeys twice, primarily because they're brined. The first time they were missing the giblets and one wing, and the 2nd time the giblets were missing. I'm afraid to buy another. I really want the giblets. As I recall, on the package it said "may contain giblets," or something like that.

      1. re: Sheilapal

        Re. Giblets: I have found that kosher poultry, chickens included, generally do not include a full or even half sets of giblets. I believe they are not included because of the difficulty of removing blood from the organ meats. I could be real wrong about that.
        I have "made do" with whatever is included, boiled up in a small pan with the neck, an onion, some celery and a bay leaf. I then finely chop the meat from the neck, whatever organs I have, the onion and celery, and add back into the broth. I make a gravy with most of the broth, adding it slowly to a roux of flour and fat from the bottom of the roasting pan. I always reserve some broth for those who don't want the high calorie gravy.

        I really recommend a fresh kosher turkey. Much better than Empire's frozen version. Unfortunately, for the last couple of years, our butcher in St. Louis has had trouble getting his order filled--for fresh turkeys.

        I am not sure I am ready for more holiday meals at this point in time!

        1. re: Sheilapal
          b
          Bride of the Juggler

          One reason for this is that PA (where Empire has its headquarters) occassionally changes it's laws about what chicken parts can be taken across state lines. I know it's weird, but for a few years I couldn't get kosher pupiks (gizzards) in NJ because of it. Thank you.

      2. many, if not most, turkeys on the market are already brined(injected) unless your buying a fresh bird.

        Unless you the whole need the bird for presentation, you may think about parting it up(depending on size), or roast until you hit required temp on the breast, remove leg/thigh and toss em back in to finish.

        1. See below - this is how I do turkeys now, brine then grill and it turns out great and moist and no fuss. I add peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves to this brine...
          and I don't add the sugar....

          Basic Turkey Brine (8-12 Hour Brining Time)
          2 gallons cool water
          2 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
          Mix in a non-reactive container until dissolved. Substitute 1-1/2 cups Morton Kosher Salt or 1 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.

          Optional: 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown) can be added for each gallon of water.

          Brine for 8-12 hours. Pat turkey dry with paper towels before cooking.

          1. My husband is the brining expert in our household. He puts the turkey in a large cooler, in ice water, and adds salt.

            My problem with brined meats is that while they are moist, the texture has changed. It has the mouth-feel of an organ meat and I dislike it, so we've given up on brining.

            On the other hand, a turkey that's cooked breast-down initially, then flipped, and basted regularly will generally be just perfect.

            5 Replies
            1. re: jillp

              Jack has brined it too long and changed the texture of the meat.

              1. re: Candy

                The same thing happened at a gourmet club thing when someone else brined a pork roast, so it isn't just Jack.

                1. re: jillp

                  yeah, but it is brining for too long.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Interestingly, the Zuni cookbook has a small section on wet brining, which I hadn't discovered til this past weekend! It's located in the section on roasts and braises.

                    She suggests brining skinless boneless chicken breast for 2-3 days and a 15 lb. turkey for 5-6 days! Large cuts of pork 5-7 days! That blew my mind b/c I pretty much trust what this woman says when it comes to curing, but I'm imagining the meat coming out all shriveled and pickled looking and waterlogged. Hmmmm...

                    She has a basic brine recipe that is modified depending on the cut and type of meat. Has anyone brined for such an extensive period of time?

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      sure, pastrami and corned beef.....:)

                      I used to brine turkeys also, years ago. I now find the texture disagreeable, as do others apparently. Mushy and almost slimey-it's got that deli meat consistency.

            2. s
              Seattle Rose

              I have brined and cooked a turkey for at least the past three years. The method I have followed is essentially the same as Alton Brown's. I believe you can find his instructions on the Food TV web site. Be sure to rinse your turkey well after removing it from the brine. These have been the best turkeys I have ever cooked. They are moist, not salty. I usually use a "fresh" turkey and certainly not an injected turkey.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Seattle Rose

                I second Alton Brown's Roast Turkey.

              2. From the San Francisco Chronicle

                Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tom Hall

                  What I learned from Cooks Illustrated, which really helps make a crisp skin on the turkey, is -- after brining -- put the bare-naked turkey in the frig for several hours before cooking. That really dries out and the skin doesn't affect the moisture of the meat.