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Marlene

Turkey Brining

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I'm going to give Uncle Alton's brining technique a whirl this week. The only vessel I have that's big enough for the bird (a 14 pounder) is a large aluminum stock pot. Like something you would boil crawfish in. I've been looked upon with great suspicion when asking for an empty 5 gallon bucket from the local bakeries...

Question is, looking at his recipe, is there anything in there that would contraindicate the use of aluminum?

Recipe is here.

If aluminum is a bad idea, can it be brined in a plastic bag and held in place by the aluminum? Only reason I'm hesitating on the bag is the idea of the plastic sticking to the turkey and not allowing contact with the brine.

Help? First turkey I'm doing for the in-laws, and turkey gumbo does not really seem like a good idea for this group....


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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I'm going to give Uncle Alton's brining technique a whirl this week. The only vessel I have that's big enough for the bird (a 14 pounder) is a large aluminum stock pot. Like something you would boil crawfish in. I've been looked upon with great suspicion when asking for an empty 5 gallon bucket from the local bakeries...

Question is, looking at his recipe, is there anything in there that would contraindicate the use of aluminum?

Recipe is here.

If aluminum is a bad idea, can it be brined in a plastic bag and held in place by the aluminum? Only reason I'm hesitating on the bag is the idea of the plastic sticking to the turkey and not allowing contact with the brine.

Help? First turkey I'm doing for the in-laws, and turkey gumbo does not really seem like a good idea for this group....

Salt corrodes aluminum. However, I don't know to what degree with a brine.

Your plastic bag idea is good and should work with no hassels.

You are brining this in the fridge, right?


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Turkey is still mostly frozen, despite being in the fridge since Saturday. I've read that you can defrost in a brine, so I'll cut back on the salt a bit and try that to maybe speed things up a bit. I'll use the probe thermometer with the alarm set for 40 degrees. I can maybe get it in the fridge, but I was really planning on putting it in the kitchen sink or a big ice chest, which I can fill with ice if needed.

I wouldn't brine the turkey itself in the ice chest, as it has been used for a fair amount of fishing. Not one of the flavors I want to add to the bird.


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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I'm leery of saltwater in an aluminum pot. I think you might get a bit of a reaction that affected the flavor, although I confess to not knowing whether your brine will be concentrated enough for that. Lessee...if you put the large plastic bag inside the pot, and pour the brine in, and then add the turkey, you should be able to turn the turkey around once in a while to make sure that no one place is in contact with the plastic the whole time, right? I'd try anchoring the outsides of the plastic to the pot with a bungee, or electrician's tape, or something like that, so the plastic stays folded back over the lip of the pot. I would also look around for something I could put in the bottom of the bag to keep the turkey slightly up off the bottom. A steamer insert or round roaster rack comes to mind, but you could probably improvise with a small pot lid, an array of shot glasses, or even a bunch of clean marbles (count carefully, before and after :wink: ).


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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A heavy garbage bag inside the pot should be just the thing.


--

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A heavy garbage bag inside the pot should be just the thing.

Are garbage bags, food safe?

I've read conflicting reports that the clear one's are ok to use.

But I have never seen from any source reliable, that either one is safe or unsafe to use.

woodburner

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A heavy garbage bag inside the pot should be just the thing.

Are garbage bags, food safe?

I've read conflicting reports that the clear one's are ok to use.

But I have never seen from any source reliable, that either one is safe or unsafe to use.

woodburner

As noted in another thread, some garbage bags have a deodorant inside them that may make things taste funny - at least, wrapped loaves of bread stored inside them taste pretty strange after a couple of days. I don't think I'd use one of those garbage bags for brining, at least not without a lot of washing. But the regular garbage bags have to be pretty clean. You aren't putting the finished product in them (at least, not until it's REALLY finished :wink: ) so they should be fine at the brining, pre-cooking stage.

I should add that I may not be a reliable source, just an opinionated one... :rolleyes:


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Update: I soaked the bird for 8 hours, using a thick plastic (unscented) garbage bag. The pot I wanted to use was too short, so I ended up improvising with the waste bin for the paper shredder. It wasn't watertight, so I used the garbage bag.

Too tall to fit in the fridge, I looked in on it every couple of hours overnight and dumped another tray of ice cubes in. Added some more salt about halfway through, since I had increased the water content. I started cooking at 7 am, to be ready in time for us todrive to the MIL. A 12 pound bird cooked in 2 hrs 15 min, and was a major hit. A beautiful specimen, survived a 45 minute trip after cooking plus a quick reheating. It carved easily, without flaking apart, and stayed moist throughout the process.

I will definitely do it again. Makes a superb turkey, and I'm going to start doing chickens that way as well. This is highly recommended, and definitely worth the extra work. I'm a believer....


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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I know this is an old topic--please redirect me if there's something more recent. I'm completely new to brining. I've cooked four turkeys in as many years with very uneven results and hope brining will at least give me some consistency. The recipes here and elsewhere on egullet suggest that a standard brine is a cup of kosher salt to a gallon of water. There's a recipe in one of my magazines, however, that calls for 3 cups of coarse salt, and 5 cups of sugar (along with assorted vegetables and spices), to 10 cups of water. Is this crazy? The recipe also calls for brining the bird for 24 hours, where I'd planned to brine for about 12 hours. Any thoughts?

A second question: some recipes call for air-drying the brined turkey for several hours before roasting. Does anyone have experience with this method?

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Yes . . . That recipe sounds pretty nuts. I would not do it. I can't even imagine what they are trying to achieve. What magazine did that come out of? Actually, I have found that adding a bunch of flavoring ingredients to the brine doesn't really do much. That seems to be especially true with turkey. For some reason, turkey seems to be particularly impermeable to anything with flavor. :raz:

Drying the turkey before roasting will make for a crisper skin.

BTW . . . Bringing up old threads is one of the truly great features of this medium. Thanks! They always bring back memories for us old folks. :biggrin:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Thanks fifi. The recipe's for the "Perfect Roast Turkey" on p. 200 of the November Martha Stewart Living. I think I'll stick with a simple 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon water recipe.

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I don't think 24 hours is outrageous. That amount of sugar is. You'll turn your turkey into something quite unlike turkey (oh, wait -- maybe that's the point?) I'm also wondering how one brines a turkey in ten cups of water.

Fifi's right that all that other stuff won't make much difference -- if it's not water-soluble, it won't be carried in with the brine -- even if it is water-soluble, it might not matter.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I have been brining for turkey for some 6 years. I use Pam Anderson's formula from her 1998 book the Perfect Recipe. 2 cups kosher salt to two gallons cold water. I you do not have enough room in frig or a big enough pot - brine in a cooler chest use a bag of ice. 12 to 24 hours is fine -- rinse well.

For roasting I use Martha Stewart's Turkey 101 from her November 1995 Martha Steward Living. Martha uses cheese cloth to drape the bird, one year I had no cheese cloth so an old T-Shirt was offered up. I don't know if Martha approves but now I call it T-Shirt Turkey. The bird is seasoned in and out filled with quartered carrots, onions, apples and fresh herbs. With the brining you got fantastic results. Warning, if you use pan drippings for your gravy - you have to watch the salt. It can easily be overdone.

Happy eating.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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I'm also a brine convert, but there are some, who report that the bird tastes too salty even after confirming salt amounts, such as you have just done. I recall reading that Harold McGee, feels brining leaves too much salt flavor for his own personal taste.

For you and your guests sake, I would suggest brining a small chicken and then roasting, before moving on to a turkey.

Here are a few, of my personal observations over the years, in no particuliar order.

There are two common brands of Kosher salt, Morton and Diamond.

Morton Coarse Kosher Salt weighs 8.1 oz. per cup

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt weighs 5 oz. per cup.

I prefer too boil the water after the salt is added just to ensure dillution, then allow to cool before sending the turkey for a swim. :hmmm:

I also use brown sugar.

Brined poultry will cook a bit quicker than non-brined, not alot, but some.

I brine 24 hours for turkey and 12 for whole chickens.

I have to disagree on the additions of flavors in the brine. I incorporate maple powder into the brine, and I can get the flavor into the turkey.

Rinse very well after brining, or set the turkey or fowl into plain water and change out twice, after about 20 minutes each.

Air drying works well, but I find if time or space does not permit it, I just adust the oven knob a bit upwards, towards the end of cooking.

My last tip, and I really laugh every time I do it, is rub the entire outside of the bird in every last nook and cranny with Kitchen Bouquet.

Enjoy

woodburner

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Can anyone please tell me if brining a Kosher turkey will ruin it? There was an article in today's Washington Post that said NOT to brine a Kosher turkey.

Will this just be overkill or will it more than likely ruin the bird? Are Kosher turkeys already brined, or just salted as other Kosher meat is?

Thanks very much,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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We've brined our turkeys the last couple of years, and we're planning to do so again. Even though we get a free range turkey grown (relatively) locally, the brining does seem to help.

However, I can't find either of the brining recipes I used. And I wasn't THAT gone on 'em to begin with.

What do you put in your brine? How far do you take it? Just sugar/salt/water, or do you throw in oranges, juniper berries, etc.?

We'll be deep-frying the bird, by the way. Not that I think it matters for this.

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Every year for 5-6 years I'd modify the herbs and spices in the brine. I threw in tons of ginger, juniper, cinnamon, star anise, 5 spice, etc. Every year, though, I'd find that the brine pretty much contributed nothing but saltiness and juiciness. So, two years ago I just did a simple salt and sugar brine and relied on the rub to add flavor.

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Cider, lots of sage, bay leaves, sliced oranges and sometimes lemons, simmered until I think it's flavorful enough (it's easier to make that call if I leave the salt until the end of the simmering; the sage and bay flavors need to be considerably stronger than I'd want them in a finished product).

I find that the major factor in whether a brine ingredient contributes any flavor is simply whether or not it's been simmered in the brine first: if you can't taste it in the brine, you won't taste it in the turkey. Even then, the drippings and the skin -- and the smell when you open the oven -- are much more affected than the meat.

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. . . . .

the drippings and the skin -- and the smell when you open the oven -- are much more affected than the meat.

Exactly. This is because the stuff that's not water-soluble (which includes most of the flavor components of herbs and spices) isn't contributing to the brine, per se -- it's a marinating component of the liquid, and never gets much past the surface of the meat.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Brining is a wonderfull thing it makes the meat moist and very flavorful as the flavor is carried by osmosis (or diffusion-- but lets not get too technical) into the cells of the meat . No injection or basting can do that. For thanksgiving I made Alton Brown's brined turkey and it was a hit. guests were picking the meat while I was carving. Defenitly give it a try and you will love it.

PS: If you are brining the turkey in a  5 gallon bucket it might not fit in the refrigerator so just place it in a cool place (no more than 6 hrs) and since you add a gallon of ice to the liquid and since the liquid is very salty there really is no fear from contamination.

Brined Turkey

Yes, I found this out the hard way one year, when I waited too long to get the Turkey, and they were all out of Butterballs, which my Grandmother said was the only kind acceptable. I ended up with a 23 pound brand I'd never heard of, and decided to brine it, so it might be moist enough for Gram.

I couldn't find anything big enough to hold the turkey and brine, and go in the fridge, so I ended up using two trashbags, put the turkey in, dumped the brine over it, tied it up, and threw it outside on the porch (it was quite cold).

I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe too, and that turkey, which was ridiculously cheap, and not a Butterball, was the best one I ever made. Brining made a huge difference.

:) Pam


Edited by pam claughton (log)

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Can anyone please tell me if brining a Kosher turkey will ruin it?  There was an article in today's Washington Post that said NOT to brine a Kosher turkey.

Will this just be overkill or will it more than likely ruin the bird?  Are Kosher turkeys already brined, or just salted as other Kosher meat is?

Brining a kosher turkey will only serve to add more salt to the taste ... the reason one can taste the salt in kosher turkeys and chickens as opposed to beef or lamb is that the flesh absorbs more than the dense meat of, say, a cow.

Brining won't ruin the turkey but it isn't worth doing ... your choice of the term "overkill" pretty well sums up the dilemma.

Kosher turkeys are not brined but salted after being killed to extract blood as required by laws of kashruth.

salting is one of the most distinctive features of kosher processing. The purpose of the salt is to draw out the birds' blood, which Orthodox Jews may not eat. Salting has the added benefits of evening out the birds' moisture, tenderizing their flesh, and creating a hostile environment for microorganisms.  "We put out poultry here that has the lowest microbial load of any in the country," Reed says proudly. Because the salt remains on the birds' surface and is thoroughly rinsed off, it does not affect the flavor.
but I have always tasted the salt, even mildly ...

source for the quote:Empire Kosher Poultry


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Cider, lots of sage, bay leaves, sliced oranges and sometimes lemons, simmered until I think it's flavorful enough (it's easier to make that call if I leave the salt until the end of the simmering; the sage and bay flavors need to be considerably stronger than I'd want them in a finished product).

I find that the major factor in whether a brine ingredient contributes any flavor is simply whether or not it's been simmered in the brine first: if you can't taste it in the brine, you won't taste it in the turkey.  Even then, the drippings and the skin -- and the smell when you open the oven -- are much more affected than the meat.

I like your logic AND your recipe!

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Thanks Melissa and kiliki!

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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I have never brined a turkey before and before wasting it on a whole big bird, I'm experimenting on a chicken tonight.

I am assuming that brine is not supposed to have some heavenly smell because mine smells pretty nasty if I do say so myself. It's mainly water with some (but not much) apple cider, salt of course, no sugar (I'm making gravy and all of the things I've read advise against sugar if you're making gravy), a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, half an onion and a celery stalk.

It's cooling down now - not cool enough to put the chicken in - may have to cook tomorrow.

Will this work? Any other suggestions on additions?

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