I've never brined a turkey . . .
- CindyJ Nov 10, 2011 06:08 AM
...or anything else, for that matter. Does it really make that much of a difference? I'll be roasting a fresh 12-14 pounder. If I brined it, where could I do it? In the kitchen sink? In the bathtub? I need a crash course in brining. Can anyone help? Thanks!
For containers, you can line a five-gallon bucket with a food-grade bag or garbage bag, or just go with a clean bucket dedicated to this operation; or if you have a picnic cooler (with drain spout is nice), that helps with insulation, and it is the optimal choice.
Take note of your bird's labeling info: if it's already injected with a salty solution, go light on the brine time or even just skip it. Otherwise you can get an-oversalty bird and make a pan gravy way too salty.
I have a 5 gallon bucket that I keep in a storage closet that has TURKEY written on it. Alton Brown does have the best brine recipe.
My mom cooked Thanksgiving for decades before we tried a brine when I first got into cooking. She now swears it's the best, simplest change for preventing dried out turkey and will never skip it again. We had a hot Thanksgiving 2 years ago and couldn't leave the bird outside in a bucket like normal, so we bought those giant liner bags for crock pots and brined it in the bag in the fridge, much like marinating. We put the whole bird in the bag, filled with brine, knotted it tight, bagged it again, then placed it in the roasting pan to catch leaks. We just had to turn it several times since it wasn't fully submerged. Just wanted to share that bucket-alternative!
I really do think it makes a difference...I'm not a big fan of turkey, but back when we thought we HAD to have one, I used to brine it overnight and it was much tastier. There are a lot of brine recipes out there, and you can toss in lots of flavor-enhancers, like mashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, pepper (though I found out the hard way that poultry & peppercorns don't mix...no matter how well you rinse & check the turkey after brining, there's always some sneaky little peppercorn still stuck somewhere...grind it!), citrus juice or zest, or some sort of fruit (had a friend who did an apple juice brine on her turkey...it got very dark in the oven but was delicious)...I just brine in a big old garbage bag and toss it in some ice in a washtub (I'm alarmingly casual about food-borne pathogens, I know). You CAN leave it in the garage or porch if you live somewhere cold, but beware...raccoons and possums like turkey (yep, speaking from experience. I thought the side porch was secure. It wasn't). I think once you try brining you won't ever NOT do it...for me it seems to make a huge difference for poultry and for pork, as well.