Brine Your Turkey For Best Thanksgiving Ever!


#1

All you turkey wranglers out there, here’s an order:

Brine your turkey. It’ll blow your mind. Your family will bow down and kiss your feet. It’s that good. It’ll be the moistest, most succulent, tastiest bird you ever had. Best of all, you can use the cheapest frozen white rock you can find in the bottom of your supermarket’s freezer case, and it’ll taste better than any heritage-free-range-gourmet-organic-fresh bird roasted the usual way. Try it once. You’ll be a Thanskgiving hero.

Here’s how to do it: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html
Be sure to watch the video and use the foil “turkey triangle,” which is critical for even cooking of the bird but is for some reason not mentioned in the text of the recipe.

For brining, get a large Ziploc “brining bag” at the supermarket. If they don’t have them, get a large roasting bag. Put the bird in the bag, put the bag into a clean 5 gal bucket, then add the brining liquid. Set it out in the (cold) garage overnight. Roast it like Alton says, using the turkey triangle foil. Use a simple meat thermometer. It’s done when the breast reaches 161 degrees, but be sure to let it rest under cover like he says for a while before carving.

Then sit back and bask in the praise from your family. You will be King For a Day! (And by the way, you can use ground allspice and ginger instead of whole allspice berries and crytallized ginger pieces, and no one will know the difference.)

(hat tip to VDC Driver for mentioning brining in another thread. I thought the subject important enough for its own thread.)


#2

Wifey doesn’t like turkey , so I’ll tell the folks at the Boys and Girls club.
Every year my employer gives us all a turkey.
My wife won’t eat turkey so we fon’t waste our time.
Instead, it’s a great opportunity to transfer the gift and do good for someone else.
I either give it to neighbors or , most often , to the Boys And Girls Culb where my kids go after school.


#3

We have the most luck with doing the turkey in the oven and basting it frequently with BEER! The beer keeps it moist and adds flavor.

We’ve had similar good luck with beer basted ham.


#4

I’ve brined a turkey and thought it was good, but I think the deep-fried turkey still wins out for flavor, texture, and moistness. It’s also less messy as far as the prep goes and cooks considerably faster. Downside is you’re buying a lot of oil. But if you like to deep fry food at home you’ll use it over the course of a year.

I also prefer dark meat over white so that may temper my opinion.

For something really fun, try a turducken. Seriously.


#5

May see if I can talk the wife into brining a turkey this year and for anyone interested; shredding leftover turkey with BBQ sauce makes some very good sandwiches.

Some irrelevant trivia I suppose, but there’s a lot of wild turkeys around here and they’ve wandered in and out of the yard a number of times.

A few years ago there was a dozen of them out there and one of them flew straight up like a helicopter and perching on a telephone cable about 20 feet up.
The bird was a bit wobbly with the line swaying due to weight but it surprised me that those birds could go vertically that fast and cling onto a tiny cable.


#6

I’ve brined my turkeys the last couple of years before smoking them on the Weber. What a difference it made. They just melted away before my eyes.


#7

@asemaster

I’ve got one of those Masterbuilt indoor turkey friers and it uses about 2 gallons of oil. The one I got holds up to a 13~14 pound turkey. They have one that’ll hold a 20 pounder, but I dunno how much oil that one holds


#8

I’ve been brining turkeys for about 10 years now. Gradually been modifying the broth to further enhance the flavors. I use about twice the spices Alton Brown lists. On the other hand, my spices generally aren’t fresh.

One of the benefits of brining the turkey is that it doesn’t have to be 100% thawed before you start.


#9

…and…let us not forget about the reality that a lot of poultry is tainted with a high bacterial count (e. coli or other nasty stuff), and by soaking it in a solution that is heavily salted, you effectively kill the bacteria. The ancient practice of, “koshering”, poultry actually has scientific validity for making the food more pure.


#10

Hope it is ok to add my two cents here on how I cook a turkey.

After struggling for years to get my Thanksgiving turkey to cook evenly, without one part bone dry and the other part undercooked, I finally discovered if I split it open by cutting it down the breast bone with a sharp serrated knife, then laying it on its back on the grill top of the roasting pan, I was finally able to get the thing to cook evenly in the oven. For me, that was the most important taste-improving discovery of my turkey cooking days. A second benefit, it cooks 30 minutes to an hour quicker.

After I discovered this trick, I now cook a turkeys fairly frequently these days, at least once a month, not just on Thanksgiving.


#11

If you’ve followed Alton Brown - do NOT stuff the turkey. Either the stuffing is undercooked, or the meat is overcooked (exception is if you start with hot stuffing.)

The other thing is temperature. Old info and those pop-up thermometers result in overcooking. You can safely quit cooking at lower temperatures. I forget what that is, but look it up.

And for heavens sake, use a digital thermometer. Do NOT rely on time only.


#12

You can also use a conventional metal glass/alcohol meat thermometer. I use a Taylor old-school thermometer that works fine and is bulletproof. In Alton Brown’s method, you take the turkey out when the breast reaches 161 and let it sit covered while heat from the outer layers continues to soak in and eventually gets up to 165 or so.

The little plastic pop-up indicators pop up at 180 or so, guaranteeing that you’ve overcooked the white meat.


#13

@OK,Turkey is marvelous animal,can fly 60mph,outrun a standard horse on ground,Ben Franklin wanted to make it the national bird.According to an old history book ,there were 70# turkeys here when the settlers arrived,I seriously doubt if a bird that big could fly.Have seen a “Buta” 80# turkey carcass at a state fair,now I dont know if that was live weight or dressed weight-Kevin


#14

The problem with thermometers is that you have to poke a hole in whatever you’re cooking (which is a no-no for me) and I don’t think they are very reliable. Last time I used one I actually had 3 different ones on hand and they all gave 3 different readings. The only thing worse than no information is bad information.

Cook a few turkeys (or anything) for that matter and prod and feel for firmness and if you pay attention you can quickly learn what your food feels like when it’s cooked to your liking by the way it looks and smells and feels.


#15

Another idea I discovered by trial and error which might prove helpful for those responsible for preparing the Thanksgiving turkey: Pre-cook the bird to the point where it is almost done the day before. If it will take 4 hours to roast the bird, roast it 3 hours the day before. Cool off, then put in the fridge overnight. On Thanksgiving day there’s just another hour or so to go. Allows time to focus on the other side dishes. I think there’s a taste improvement doing it this way too. I have no explanation why, but the meat seems more tasty and more juicy.


#16

George,

I hope you realize that the heat involved in cooking has to penetrate the deepest part of the meat - and that removing the turkey from the heat early means that you have to start over driving that heat into the center. Your method ought to result in raw turkey at the center.

My guess is that you were overcooking the turkey before and that’s why it tastes better.


#17

I agree with CapriRacer.
Stopping the cooking of the turkey before it is done is tantamount to stopping your antibiotic prescription before you have taken the full dose.

Either way, it is very likely that you will be creating resistant bacteria. Even if you finish the cooking the following day, bacterial outgrowth from undercooking on the previous day is very difficult to overcome, and this represents a potential health hazard.


#18

Good comments Capri and VDC. As mentioned in some of the above posts, it is always a good idea to test poultry doneness w/an accurate meat thermometer. Especially an issue when cooking whole turkeys as they have cold spots.

hmmm… I decided this year I’m having a roasted chicken instead! … seems less complicated … lol …


#19

Well plan A this year was Coq Au Vin ala Alton Brown.

But the son-in-law decided he wanted to give it a go. I volunteered my advice and guidance, but did he want it?? Noooooo!!

I like this guy already.


#20

Defiantly have to agree with not doing 2 cookings of the same bird, time temp and environment are the 3 biggest factors relating to food poisoning. Pop up timers are actually good, but in the olden days when I was chef, once you could pull on the leg and it would split off from the turkey it was done. Many a fine buffet, No stuffing is good, but believe it or not one little secret is how you carve the turkey breast. Going vertically goes along the muscle strands, making it tough, carving horizontally into the breast can make a significant difference in the same turkey. Season the outside and inside of the turkey for best results.