Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brining a Turkey

Photo from Rachel Tayse's Photostream

I just took my free-range heritage turkey out of the freezer to thaw before I drop it in a brine for a few hours. I do a LOT of brining... turkey, chickens, Cornish Game hens, and even some pork. Of course, the corned beef I make is also really a brine. and I don't know why I haven't posted before now about brining in general. It's the best thing I've ever done to a turkey, other than buying a heritage turkey!

Since I'm brining overnight (tonight) and Thanksgiving is imminent, I don't have time to do a 'show and tell' about my brine at the last minute. I am using the Chez Panisse brine, cut down in quantity and brining time since my turkey is very small.

Chez Panisse Brine
2 1/2 gallons cold water
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 tablespoons dried
1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed

Place the water in a large non-reactive pot that can easily hold the liquid and the turkey. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or two until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Put the turkey into the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. If the turkey floats to the top, weight it down with a plate and cans to keep it completely submerged in the brine.

Note: You may halve or double the recipe. The important thing is to prepare enough brine to cover the turkey completely. Also note that the brine may make pan drippings too salty for gravy.

To roast: Remove the bird from the brine, rinse and drain well. Pat dry. Follow the instructions for roasting.

However, I think I will add a little of the candied ginger that Alton Brown uses, just because I love ginger!

Here's a great link with information about brining, and several good brine recipes. At another time, I think I may try their Apple Brine

Happy Brining for a Happy Turkey!

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