Brining the bird
Well, it's time to think about that Thanksgiving turkey. Fresh vs. frozen, natural, organic, pre-basted???? Last year I followed the advice of a chef friend of mine who recommended brining the turkey in a solution of equal parts brown sugar and salt. The resulting bird was deliciously moist and tasty however...the pan drippings produced a gravy that was very salty. I still haven't decided what type of bird to buy. I really liked the idea of a brined bird but think I should reduce the salt in the brine solution. Any suggestions out there?
I've always read that if you brine your bird, your drippings will be too salty. Some friends of mine won't do it, just because of that. You could try reducing the salt, OR just use your giblets and "parts" (neck and such like) to make a wonderful stock without salt, and only use a little bit of your drippings for flavor.
You can definitely safely reduce the salt in your brine to produce a better balanced gravy...but please try the Marthastewartliving.com - recipe finder. And look up Turkey 101 with the search feature. SHe did an amazing bird with a butter and white wine baste that was outstanding (that I believe was brined. The gravy was not salty but it was a recipe for a dark gravy with the giblets and all ground in. If I can find it in my files...I'll add the post
Turkey brine is also great with a 1/3rd to 1/2 ratio apple juice or cider replacing that amount of the water.
Here's a question I have: I saw a recipe a few years ago for turkey with chopped bacon butter under the skin, and I've been wanting to try it, because I have a love for anything bacon. However, I've been brining my birds for the past few years and have been very pleased with the results: do you think that the bacon + a brined bird will make for a too salty turkey?
We do a heritage turkey every year. We start by brining, then air-drying, then smoking and finally roasting it. I seldom bother with gravy because DH and I don't like it but last year we were taking it to SIL's house so I made it from stock and added drippings. It was horribly salty, presumably from the drippings.
I don't intend to change the way the turkey is done, it makes a fabulously smoky, juicy, tasty bird which everyone loves. But I wouldn't use the drippings for anything, just discard. You can make gravy from the stock made with the neck, giblets etc. and it should be fine.
I brined my turkey last year in equal parts apple cider and chicken broth. Just enough salt to get the diffusion/osmosis reaction going but not enough to mess up the drippings. It turned out very well.
An alternative would be to buy a kosher turkey which you would not have to brine at all. They are essentially brined in the koshering process but never produce overly salty drippings.