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Nov 21, 2011 07:25 PM

Dry-brining disaster in the making?

I am on day two of dry-brining a heritage turkey and the meat feels mushy (I think that is a technical term). Anyone else ever experience this? Do I need to procure a back-up bird? Any insight would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I don't know where the term "dry brining" originated but if the turkey is covered with dry ingredients and not immersed in a liquid brine it's actually a dry rub. True, it's left on longer than a typical rub that is applied immediately ahead of roasting and it does aid in the redistribution of moisture in the bird, but it's a rub just the same. What bothers me is that those who are unfamiliar with the true brining method may confuse the results of the extended contact period for the rub with brining and, though similar, in my experience they do not provide identical results.
    If you'll let us know where you found the recipe for the rub and list the ingredients in your rub it'll be easier to evaluate what's going on.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Thanks. I followed the la times recipe (which I think is the first to apply the method to turkey) and it is simply the application of salt, in this case two tablespoons, to a 10 lb. bird.

      1. re: avandelay

        Thank you for the reminder. I just flew to fridge to 'rub.'

        It's fine. It will tighten for the duration, and the 'dry out uncovered' day takes care of any residual mushiness.

        This is our fourth year using this method, and the result is perfect. [Disclaimer: We do not buy heritage turkeys. this is regular supermarket 'loss leader' turkey.]

        You may also notice shortly that the legs and wings look horrible. Please do not worry. I was horrified the first year we tried this method. But the resulting finished product was wonderful. [Except for me. I'm allergic to turkey. sigh.]

        How will you cook your turkey, please? We grill it. and baste it a little with butter and crushed garlic/onion/various other things towards the end.

    2. I dry brine a heritage bird every year, but I don't think I do it more than a couple of days in advance. It turns out beautifully. When were you aiming to cook the bird? And yeah, I'd also let it dry out uncovered for a while.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Vetter

        I was planning to brine through Wednesday and then dry into Thursday. I think I'm going to rinse it tonight and then dry into Thursday. I plan on just roasting the bird. Real simple.

        1. re: Vetter

          What kind of heritage bird do you dry brine, Vetter? And can you share your process for dry brining? I splurged on a 13 lb American Bronze yesterday so would love your advice.

        2. I am following the LA Times method this year too. I started on Sunday & put salt all over and put it in the plastic bag. Then I read the CI method and now I am having second thoughts. The CI method says to rub the salt UNDER the skin while the LA Times has the salt being rubbed ON the skin. Has anyone tried both these methods & is one better? And should I rub some under the skin too as insurance? It was hard for me to imagine the salt penetrating the skin and then working it's magic on the meat when I was doing it but I took a leap of faith. Now I am having my doubts. Gulp.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sparkareno

            I did it all outside the skin the first time I tried it and it was fine. The next time, I put some under the skin as well, and it was fine too. Don't sweat it - it will be terrific!!!

            1. re: sparkareno

              Not to worry. Salt draws moisture (hygroscopic) so vigorously that it will eventually dissolve itself in the water is attracts. That, of course, is what you want from a brine or rub. If you put salt on top of the bird it will works its way through the skin and generate the moisture balance you're trying to achieve. It may take a little longer, but its value will not be wasted.

            2. I don't think you can tell how mushy it is until it cooks, upon which it will firm up considerably. Do not worry.