Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Checklist

It's Brining Day For All Good Turkeys

Disregard if you're using a Butterball® or other saline injected turkey. If you are using a fresh, or otherwise never frozen bird, like one of the Heritage strains, today is when you need to brine.

I brine my bird in a cold drink container. I used to use a plastic bucket, but the drink container has a handy nozzle at the bottom for draining the brine when the deed is done. Taking out the brine makes for easier lifting.

First, make the brine. This is an all purpose brine that works for most poultry. It is not engraved in stone or anything so please, feel free to adjust it for your personal tastes. Our turkey this year is a once wild Royal Palm. Poor guy wandered right in front of my shotgun muzzle. He was a noble fellow. We will say a blessing to his honor on Thursday.


1 gallon vegetable broth
1 cup kosher or sea salt (NOT IODIZED)
1 tablespoon each
*you can also add in any onion skins, celery tops, apple peel, or other vegetable scraps which might occur during your holiday prep work. None of them hurt a thing, and flavors in the brine transfer themselves to the bird and bring about a wonderful complexity.
1 gallon ice water (adding more to cover the bird completely)

Heat the broth to just below boiling, dissolve the salt completely, toss in the herbs, cut the heat, allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix in the ice water and transfer to the container. Remove giblet bag from the bird and pat dry with paper towels. Place the bird into the brine breast down, add as much cold water as needed to completely cover, cap tightly and store in a cool place at least overnight.

To cook the bird, remove the turkey, dry it thoroughly, discard brine (this is a wonderful herbicide so a perfect place to discard it is sidewalk cracks).

Remember that a brined fowl cooks faster. Keep a close eye on your meat thermometer during the roasting.

Interesting additions to the brine include Worschestershire sauce, vinegar, hard cider, tobasco, tapatio®, garlic salt, onion salt, or really anything that strikes your fancy. Be bold and creative, you can't really fuck it up at this stage. Besides, you're throwing it out in a couple of days so nobody will ever really know.