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forever_young_ca

Brining, basting, and stuffing your turkey

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Brown Hornet - I have not tried the dry-brining method before, but after reading these posts and the linked articles I am looking forward to trying a dry brine this year.

Just a word of caution - if you try the dry brining method be careful with the type of salt. The recipe calls for kosher salt I think because it is very dissolvable. I used a large granule kosher salt. If you use a small granule I think you may end up over salting

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Even Kosher salt's weight per volume varies greatly from brand to brand.

Morton's Kosher weighs 37% more than Diamond Crystal Kosher for any given volume! :huh:

Weighing is always the best course of action.

1% salt suits me when dry-brining chicken or turkey.


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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Can someone comment on the effect of basting? Most old school turkey recipes call for frequent basting of the turkey. I am under the impression that basting slows cooking by (1) increasing evaporation from the skin thus slowing heat absorption, and (2) heat loss through opening the oven door. Does basting actually help the skin crisp up by adding proteins and sugar to the skin?

I think that it's a waste of time.

I haven't noticed any great advantage to basting.

I don't bother.

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Very good point Forever Young -- for brining and especially curing, getting accurate weight ratios is critical.

Digging, thanks for the percentage of salt -- I was just wondering about that.

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Basting is definitely not a waste of time. Personal evidence abounds in my house -- and then there's this discussion and quotation from Modernist Cuisine, from which this quote is taken:

Basting food is a lot like deep-frying it a bit at a time. Whether you're baking in an oven or frying over a burner, dribbling food with hot fat or oil will speed cooking in a couple of ways. First, a coating of oil puts a lid on evaporation, raising the wet-bulb tempearture -- and therefore the effective cooking temperature -- at the surface of the food. The coating of oil can also be much hotter than the boiling point of water, so any water droplets the oil encounters at the food surface flash to steam and erupt through the oil as jets of vapor. These constant eruptions stir the cooler air that surrounds the food, and the resulting turbulence increases the rate of heat transfer -- just as convection currents in a deep fryer do.

Taken together, these two effects heat and dry the food surface more quickly and evenly than either baking or panfrying alone.

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Basting is definitely not a waste of time. Personal evidence abounds in my house -- and then there's this discussion and quotation from Modernist Cuisine, from which this quote is taken:

Basting food is a lot like deep-frying it a bit at a time. Whether you're baking in an oven or frying over a burner, dribbling food with hot fat or oil will speed cooking in a couple of ways. First, a coating of oil puts a lid on evaporation, raising the wet-bulb tempearture -- and therefore the effective cooking temperature -- at the surface of the food. The coating of oil can also be much hotter than the boiling point of water, so any water droplets the oil encounters at the food surface flash to steam and erupt through the oil as jets of vapor. These constant eruptions stir the cooler air that surrounds the food, and the resulting turbulence increases the rate of heat transfer -- just as convection currents in a deep fryer do.

Taken together, these two effects heat and dry the food surface more quickly and evenly than either baking or panfrying alone.

The way I've come to roast turkey - which is roasting a spatchcocked bird in a cast iron pan after the bird's skin has been dried for 3 days - basting is a total waste of time.

A spatchcocked bird naturally roasts in about half the time of a conventionally prepared bird and with the dry skin there's very little if any evaporative cooling.....plus...the skin crisps up nicely.

Even when preparing a bird in the conventional way, I haven't found that basting is a good use of time when there are so many other things to be done in the kitchen.

Rather than run a mad race to get finished via basting and other nonsense, I'd rather start a bit earlier.

YMMV.

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I don't know what you're calling "nonsense," but there's lots of ways to avoid racing around and still do things like basting, which has definitely been worth the five or seven minutes of added time each year. I'd urge others to give it a go if they haven't done so before!

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Thanks for the discussion Martin and Chris. Chris, that quote from MC is interesting. When I used to baste, I basted with pan drippings, which is part oil and part escaped juices from the bird. Would you get a better result if you only basted with fresh oil? Or do you try to grab only the oil in the drippings to baste with?

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The recipe I use adds quite a bit of butter to the pan, and I use that. The non-oil liquids tend to burn off over time.

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Thanks to all who replied. After some thought, I have decided to use the Judy Rogers method.

Anne T - how long do you leave it in the fridge for the skin to dry out? I have not been able to find the large plastic bags in Canada - have you?

One more question - do you have a preferred salt that you use?

Now I just have to figure out the side dishes...............

Forever Young, Sorry, I missed your question. I usually uncover the turkey sometime the day before. So it air dries between 18 and 24 hours. I don't worry about plastic bags. I just wrap the turkey with plastic wrap. But if you are looking for really big bags, try the Dollar Tree (Dollar Store) or Liquidation World. Both carry large Zip Lock bags. Big enough to hold a fair size turkey. I use Kosher salt.

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Thanks Ann_T. I ended up using plastic wrap as well as that is what I had on hand. The turkey was great, and I will do this method again.

I am surprisingly a convert to cooking the dressing outside of the bird as well. I resisted this for years but I have to admit I preferred the result to that cooked inside. I used homemade turkey stock, but I felt the dressing was not as heavy as that cooked inside the bird and had a better flavour. It had the added benefit of being put together the night before and being less fuss when I was trying to juggle getting everything on the table hot at the last minute.

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DiggingDogFarm - 1% salt suits me when dry-brining chicken or turkey.

Can you be a bit more explicit on 1% salt? salt / turkey ratio = 1%?

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55 grams of salt for a 5.5 kilo turkey.

That's rubbing the bird inside and out---heaviest in thicker areas---without much concern if a tiny bit of salt falls off

I dry brine turkeys for 3-4 days at 34-35 degrees F.

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I think a lot of the confusion around basting has to do with whether the liquid is a) water & fat at 100C/212F or b) fat only significantly hotter than 100C/212F. Depending on the oven, pan, bird & stuff in the pan, a recipe that might work well with basting in one setup can be a total disappointment with another.

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Forever_Young_CA, I'm also on the west coast of Canada. I have done the stuffing/dressing both ways. Presalting doesn't prohibit you from stuffing the turkey. But I do prefer to bake the dressing separate from the bird.

~Ann

Ann, think of me as a foreigner...can you give me more details on how do you bake a separate stuffing and how you finish your bird?

Italians stuff their turkeys for Christmas, but it 's not something I grew up with so I feel very inexperienced

Thanks

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55 grams of salt for a 5.5 kilo turkey.

That's rubbing the bird inside and out---heaviest in thicker areas---without much concern if a tiny bit of salt falls off

I dry brine turkeys for 3-4 days at 34-35 degrees F.

I'm a fan of dry curing/brining over wet brining of a turkey. Just like the flavor and texture better.

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Thanks to all who replied. After some thought, I have decided to use the Judy Rogers method.

Anne T - how long do you leave it in the fridge for the skin to dry out? I have not been able to find the large plastic bags in Canada - have you?

One more question - do you have a preferred salt that you use?

Now I just have to figure out the side dishes...............

I don't often roast birds or meat, but when I do, Judy Rodgers' method is what I use. I even use her technique when making hamburgers (see my recipe in the recipe section).

As for salt, my go-to salt is Diamond Crystal kosher salt, but other, similar salts would be fine, I'm sure. I never use any salt that contains anti caking agents or any additives. Some salt even contains sugar!

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I only make pan stuffing these days. look up your favorite stuffing Rx and use turkey stock for the liquid component and thats it.

cover for part of the baking, then brown the top.

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I only make pan stuffing these days. look up your favorite stuffing Rx and use turkey stock for the liquid component and thats it.

cover for part of the baking, then brown the top.

If you haven't made the turkey yet, where do you get the stock? Do you use previously made frozen stock? I wonder how many people have frozen turkey stock on hand ...

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I cook a 10-12 lb. turkey just before Thanksgiving and use the carcass, wings, feet, etc. for stock for the big day.

That gives us a lot of gobbler to gobble in the following weeks. :smile:


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

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I cook a turkey just before Thanksgiving and use the carcass, wings, feet, etc. for stock for the big day.

That gives us a lot of gobbler to gobble over the following weeks. :smile:

How far in advance do you cook the bird? How does that effect the taste and texture of the bird on the day? Might the taste and texture suffer compared to a bird just out of the oven? And what about those wonderful smells that fill the house and kitchen? Seems to me that's part of the holiday tradition as well. Do you reheat the previously carved bird?

The whole thing seems too "practical" to me. It feels like part of the Thanksgiving experience is missing. Please consider that this is coming from someone who hasn't roasted a turkey since 1981.


Edited by Shel_B (log)

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I used to bone out the turkey the day before and roast the bones and make the stock that day. it eventually ends up as the gravy component

its true turkey stock is hard to come by. cant say why. one would think if they can make and can chicken stock they would make turkey stock at least seasonally.

some times markets sell necks, wing tips backs etc the week before Tx.

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Whoops!!! I should have been more clear, I definitely cook another bird on Thanksgiving day!

Meat from the "stock" bird is used for various other things.

Often I'll remove the breasts before cooking and freeze them for preparation later.

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I cook a 10-12 lb. turkey just before Thanksgiving and use the carcass, wings, feet, etc. for stock for the big day.

That gives us a lot of gobbler to gobble in the following weeks. :smile:

I usually buy a half dozen turkey necks the weekend before Thanksgiving. Those are then roasted and made into stock.

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