Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Brine that Thanksgiving Turkey

Regardless of how you plan to cook your turkey, the best way to get a flavorful, juicy, crispy skin turkey is to brine your bird.

Brining adds moisture and flavor to poultry and helps to keep it from drying out.
It doesn't matter if the turkey is grilled, smoked, fried, or roasted, the key is to brined the bird first.
While you look around for a container big enough for the turkey and enough room in your refrigerator, may we suggest something we do.

We use a cooler with a lid. (more on that in a moment)
Here in the Voodoo Kitchen we use salt, water, sugar, fresh Rosemary and a bag of ice.

If you use a cooler, you can put the turkey in a plastic bag as you see in the photo, it's all up to you.
Whatever container you choose, the turkey must have enough room to be turned, so find something big enough.

The turkey should be cleaned out, completely thawed, and not the self-basting or Kosher turkeys. Self-basting and Kosher turkeys have a salty stock already added that will make your brined turkey too salty.
Make sure to check the ingredients on the turkey before you decide to brine.
A fresh turkey works best, but a frozen bird, completely thawed, works just as well.

To make the brine:
Mix 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar for every gallon of water.
Make sure that the salt and sugar is completely dissolved before adding the Rosemary.

Using a cooler with a lid works great, just put the turkey in the cooler, add a big bag of ice and you're ready for the brine.

If you aren't using a cooler, find a container that is big enough for the turkey and that will fit in your cooler or refrigerator.

Now, pour in enough brine to completely cover the turkey.
You do not want any part of the turkey above the surface of the brine. Now place the whole thing in the refrigerator.

Making enough room in the fridge is the most difficult thing about brining, unless you are using the cooler.
With a cooler, you can place it outside overnight or in the kitchen.
At least you won't have to use all the room in your fridge.
How long to brine?
We keep it simple, by brining the turkey overnight.

Rinsing the turkey is next.
Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly in the sink with cold water until all of the salt and sugar is completely off the surface inside and out.
This is really important, if you don't get the brine rinsed off thoroughly, your turkey will be very salty.

Now you can cook the turkey as you usually would.

You will taste you the difference with the first bite.
You'll notice that the brining has helped the turkey stay moist with a crispy skin.
After brining, you'll never go back.