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Nov 15, 2011 09:38 AM

No Time To Brine - Should I buy a store brined turkey, a kosher turkey, or regular and just not brine it?

I'm going to be coming in from out of town but will still have to prepare a turkey so I'm not going to have time to brine it. Whole Foods sells pre-brined turkey - should I just go with that, or should I go with a kosher turkey (probably from Whole Foods as well), which I understand has gone through something similar to a brining process? I have heard kosher turkey takes extra prep though because they're not completely plucked, etc. Or should I just forget about the brining process and just clean it and stick it in the oven?

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  1. Cooks Illustrated has tested all these options, and their suggestions is the Kosher turkey, as it has gone through a 'salting' process. Apparently, this works better for juicy meat and good turkey flavor. A purchased brined turkey can be 'overly-brined', and not really taste like turkey anymore (would you leave your bird in brine for days? I thnk not...).
    So that would be my choice if I had your connundrum.

    1. I would recommend an Empire Kosher bird as well, and because they are the same everywhere, you don't need to buy at WF unless you just want to pay more.

      2 Replies
      1. re: acgold7

        I have had Empire kosher, and they're very good. The amount of feathers (if any) does not stick in my memory. Short work with pliers.

        In the OP's situation, I would also consider a fresh Butterball. A bit common, but they're reliable and also what many people grew up liking.

        The Empire would be my preference, but they're hard to find fresh around here. If you've got time to thaw a turkey, you could brine a fresh natural one, easy.

        1. re: Bada Bing

          That's a really good point; I think all the Empire Koshers are frozen, although the supers may thaw them in order to have a few ready to go a few days before Thanksgiving.

          By the same token, I don't know if any *fresh* Butterballs have been injected. Most of them have not, but a few might be. Read the labels carefully.

        1. I've always brined a turkey but last yr, i decided not to and bought the Empire kosher turkey..followed one of a popular recipes from and it was a success! It was delicious!

          1. We've been enjoying Whole Foods free-range turkeys for many years now & have NEVER been disappointed. In fact, just reserved ours last week. Best turkey ever!!