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Nov 18, 2010 12:40 PM

extra soaking a pre-brined turkey?

am planning on getting a pre-brined 12 lb turkey at trader joe's. for more flavor, can i give it another soak in a bucket with cinnamon, orange peel, etc (without the salt)? or will soaking it in spiced water dissolve the salt that is already in there?
also, will adding water to the bottom of the roasting pan while it is cooking make any difference to its moistness/flavor?
any thoughts/tips would be gratefully appreciated, as this is my first time cooking a turkey :)

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  1. if you are going to soak it again, i would suggest making sure that you salt the solution. the salt is actually gunna help get your extra flavors in, it draws water OUT initially, and when equilibrium is achieved the water flowing back INTO the turkey brings the flavors in with it.

    the other reason keeping salt in it is important is that the salt/water balance that is achieved at the end of a brining process is actually just the starting point of why brining is important. some of the most important effects of brining is on how it causes the proteins and such in the meat to react once the bird starts to cook. if you disrupt that salt/water balance by putting it in a dilute solution post-brining, it defeats the purpose of the initial brine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mattstolz

      thanks mattstolz! but wouldn't adding more salt to the spice water make the turkey taste extra extra salty? i have never tasted brined turkey before, but i heard it will taste saltier than an unbrined kinda worried abt the sodium levels for the high blood pressure eaters who will be at the meal.

      1. re: mease

        the idea behind a brine isnt really as much to get salt into the turkey as much as it is to create a environment that traps moisture in the bird upon cooking. alton touches on it in this clip @about 3:30:

    2. I thought there are non-brined ones in TJ's. Why bother getting a brined one if you're going to brine it anyway?

      1. DO NOT brine the turkey further, on penalty of overly salting it. If you have had kosher turkey, Butterball, or any "self-basting" or injected turkey you have tasted the same effect that salt brine has. If you want to get other flavors into the bird, mix them into softened butter. Gently loosen the skin on the breast and legs with your fingers (use a wooden spoon to help if you can't reach in far enough), then massage the compound butter onto the meat, under the skin. If you are not stuffing the bird, put your orange, etc, in the cavity. If you ARE stuffing it, the flavors in the stuffing will help flavor the meat. Leaving the bird uncovered in the refrigerator overnight will dry the skin surface and make it crisp better.

        Water in the bottom of the pan will not help and may slow the crisping of the skin. Strew coarsely-chopped carrot, onion, celery, and optional fruit on the bottom of the pan. These will exude their juices and flavor the drippings you'll use to make gravy.

        If you get the PBS Create channel, Sat Nov 20 will have holiday cooking shows on all day - you will find lots of solid suggestions on the America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country episodes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          oooooh putting the orange right into the cavity is a great idea. i always forget about that option cuz i just assume thats where the stuffing goes! haha

          1. re: greygarious

            thanks grey!
            would your compound butter suggestion under the skin, in addition to a maple syrup butter basting over the skin, be too much? i am wondering if the sugar content will make the maple butter "burn" and blacken the skin before the turkey is cooked through...

            1. re: mease

              Frequent basting really isn't necessary. Slather some butter or olive oil all over the skin befoer putting it in the oven. Give it a couple of bastings while it roasts. Some people don't do it at all, because it is thought to work against crispness of the skin. Consider the maple a glaze, which you will use only in the last half hour of cooking, keeping an eye on the browning of the skin. Mix the maple syrup with butter, oil, or some of the pan juices.

            2. re: greygarious

              Definitely agree on not brining. Unless you are somehow able to make an isotonic salt solution you'll either result in an oversalted turkey, or one where the flavor is actually leeching out.

              I like the butter idea, or just add the flavors to the roasting pan. Don't add the orange to the cavity cause it will just steam and result in uneven cooking.