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Turkey Brining
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  • Turkey Brining

    Post #1 - November 8th, 2005, 10:45 am
    Post #1 - November 8th, 2005, 10:45 am Post #1 - November 8th, 2005, 10:45 am
    This year I'm going to brine the Thanksgiving turkey. I have heard wonderful things about the brining solution that Williams-Sonoma sells, but it costs $16. Does anyone have an opinion as to whether it's worth it? It includes apple, sea salt, black pepper, juniper berries, lemon rind, garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay (reading from their catalog).
  • Post #2 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Post #2 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am Post #2 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Based on that list, I don't see how it could be worth the 16 dollars. I have had far better results making my own because they are cheaper and they are fresher. Furthermore, I have always considered Williams and Sonoma a good idea for inspiration but not for purchasing.
    bern bern
  • Post #3 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Post #3 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am Post #3 - November 8th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Don't do it!!!

    Making your own is fast and easy...I'm sure a bunch of folks out there have their own recipes (and I make mine up as I go and never write it down). A quick google search under "Turkey brine" yields a number of recipes, including one from Alton Brown of Good Eats.

    Don't let the very existence of a W-S brine mix discourage you. It is child's play, really.
  • Post #4 - November 8th, 2005, 11:17 am
    Post #4 - November 8th, 2005, 11:17 am Post #4 - November 8th, 2005, 11:17 am
    Hi,

    I saw the brining mix at Williams and Sonoma last week, also. You're paying for the name and the presentation when making it is oh so easy. They do have their annual Thanksgiving cookbook out, which is free and my reason to be in the store.

    Brining turkeys was covered extensively last year on two threads last Thanksgiving:

    Cooking heritage turkeys

    Thanksgiving brainstorming

    In one of these threads is a brining solution from Chez Panisse, which many here like.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - November 8th, 2005, 11:31 am
    Post #5 - November 8th, 2005, 11:31 am Post #5 - November 8th, 2005, 11:31 am
    In response to some of this, my brother in law are cooking two turkeys as some with a shade of southern influence. He is going to deep fry his and I am going to smoke mine. I smoked about ten years ago and it was welcomed with raves and praises. However, I didn't brine. Would this be overkill to brine it first and would it retard the cooking because it is done at such a low temp? Should just stick to what works?
  • Post #6 - November 8th, 2005, 11:37 am
    Post #6 - November 8th, 2005, 11:37 am Post #6 - November 8th, 2005, 11:37 am
    Brining before smoking is a great thing to do. I've got nothing but raves from the (2) turkeys I have prepared this way.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - November 8th, 2005, 11:59 am
    Post #7 - November 8th, 2005, 11:59 am Post #7 - November 8th, 2005, 11:59 am
    You should download G Wiv's brining recipes at the bottom of this Purple Asparagus page. Several good ideas there. But in short, yeah, no reason not to make your own and decide what you like in a brine through your own experimentation. I've been brining for about 5 years at T-Day and the birds have always met with huge approval. Note that the drippings will be significantly more salty, though, so when you make gravy you need to use them as an ingredient and adjust to taste with other turkey-flavored liquid.
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  • Post #8 - November 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    Post #8 - November 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm Post #8 - November 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    Hi,

    I downloaded and read both methods of turkey preparation. I very much appreciated Gary's outline of how the turkey will taste using the various brines.

    I've been long following Cook's Illustrated evolution of the brining method. Initially it was straight from the brine and into the oven. They have since amended to brining of no more than 12 hours, then removing the bird the night before to air dry before cooking. The drying process allows for a crispier skin, which my family prizes.

    I agree with Mike on the saltiness of the cooking liquid from these brined turkeys. You really have to dilute it with salt-free stock later.

    Another comment: if the weather works with me, I will use my large stock pot (or 5 gallon food-safe plastic pail) to brine the turkey using my enclosed porch like an extra refrigerator. If the weather works against me, I use my cooler that I clean very carefully before and after to brine my turkey adding ice to keep it cool.

    All this fussiness with brines really does reap great results, so it is well worth the extra effort.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - November 8th, 2005, 2:41 pm
    Post #9 - November 8th, 2005, 2:41 pm Post #9 - November 8th, 2005, 2:41 pm
    Brining turkey can be dangerous - for your love life
  • Post #10 - November 8th, 2005, 2:49 pm
    Post #10 - November 8th, 2005, 2:49 pm Post #10 - November 8th, 2005, 2:49 pm
    I have been following Alton Brown's brining method for several years. Always turns out great. I have used a five gallon pail, from Home Depot, along with a bag of ice, and my cooler, again with ice.

    I got, as a gift, some steaks from Omaha Steaks, and the styrafome shipping container is just perfect for an 18 pound turkey.

    I also brine any chicken I am going to roast, and use an apple cider brine for pork roast. They come out so moist, and tender.
  • Post #11 - November 8th, 2005, 3:12 pm
    Post #11 - November 8th, 2005, 3:12 pm Post #11 - November 8th, 2005, 3:12 pm
    Hi,

    Do you mind sharing the ingrediants for the apple cider brine?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - November 8th, 2005, 6:31 pm
    Post #12 - November 8th, 2005, 6:31 pm Post #12 - November 8th, 2005, 6:31 pm
    This is from a prolific contributor to the alt.bbq newsgroup. He has since passed, but his brine lives on, and has drawn many compliments. If you like crispy skin I'd add Cook's Illustrated method to the end.


    Hound's Citrus Brine

    Prepare the brine:
    1 gallon water
    1 cup Kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
    juice of 3 oranges
    juice of three limes
    juice of three lemons
    rinds from same
    1 sliced white onion
    1 head of garlic, crushed
    stems from a bunch of cilantro, chopped
    serranos to taste, minimum of 4
    rough ground cumin and coriander 2 Tbsp each
    1/4 cup chili powder or any ground chile you prefer
    (1/4 cup onion powder is optional)
    (1/4cup garlic powder is optional)

    Place the bird(s) and plenty of brine solution in a ziploc bag(s) and
    leave refrigerated overnight prior to cooking. A cooler works fine also.
    I use a 5 gal beverage cooler for all but the biggest turkeys. Frozen
    soda bottles, or ice can be used to keep the cold. {8 lbs of ice= 1
    gallon of water} An hour before cooking take the bird out and
    thoroughly wash it down with cold water for at least 30 seconds. You
    can place aromatics like garlic heads, apples, citrus in the cavity of
    the bird for the cooking. I like also to place orange slices between
    skin and meat. This works for either chickens or turkeys.
    If you eliminate the brine (salt and water) the rest of the recipe makes
    an excellent marinade for grilled chicken.
  • Post #13 - November 8th, 2005, 7:12 pm
    Post #13 - November 8th, 2005, 7:12 pm Post #13 - November 8th, 2005, 7:12 pm
    stevez wrote:Brining before smoking is a great thing to do. I've got nothing but raves from the (2) turkeys I have prepared this way.


    Steve, not directed at you, but at OP Tcdup

    I have prepared around 60 birds in the last five years this way (brine and smoke)

    Just need to throw this out there, without knowing tcdup's experience with birds or brine.

    I you buy a store bought bird, wrapped in cryovac, look for the words such as "packaged in a X% solution" where the X is between 9 and 13.

    What this means is that if it says packed in a 11% solution, it is already in a brine. To brine a brined bird is self defeating.

    Just don't want you to waste your time brining an already treated bird.
    Bill-Aurora
  • Post #14 - November 8th, 2005, 9:51 pm
    Post #14 - November 8th, 2005, 9:51 pm Post #14 - November 8th, 2005, 9:51 pm
    Dbigg,

    Thank you for providing your friend's recipe. It's wonderful that he may have passed on but a part of him lives on in this recipe.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - November 9th, 2005, 1:12 am
    Post #15 - November 9th, 2005, 1:12 am Post #15 - November 9th, 2005, 1:12 am
    I tend to season my turkey heavily with a strongly flavored butter before roasting, and therefore I don't put a lot of seasoning in the brine.

    This simple formula has worked for me for years:

    Brine for poultry

    1 gallon water
    1 cup kosher salt
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 bay leaf, crumbled

    Heat half the water till steaming. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Add the bay leaf and remaining water. Let cool completely.

    To figure out how much brine you need, take your still-wrapped chicken or turkey and put it in your brining container. Cover with water by 2 inches. Take out the bird and measure the water. Increase the above proportions accordingly.

    Sometimes I add some cracked peppercorns, apple cider, wine or bourbon, if I happen to have any around. I can't say that I've ever noticed that these significantly affect the flavor of the finished bird, though.

    In order to cut down on the amount of brine needed, I've taken to putting the bird and brine in a large food-safe plastic bag. A 2-gallon zipper bag works well for a chicken or small- to medium-sized turkey. For a larger bird, I use one of those cooking bags inside a trash bag (for strength). If there's room in the fridge, it goes in there. Otherwise, it goes into a cooler with ice. Every so often, I turn and jiggle the bag, so no part stays on the bottom the whole time.

    I normally brine overnight, then rinse and dry thoroughly before seasoning and roasting.

    I never have room in my fridge for the air-drying method some advocate, so I've never tried that. I just dry the bird as best I can with paper towels. The butter and the roasting method I use typically crisp the skin quite well.

    BTW, if you don't have time to brine, buy a kosher bird -- the kashering has a similar effect.
  • Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 10:49 am
    Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 10:49 am Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 10:49 am
    for all the great recipe ideas, and for talking me down from the W-S brine. I was in the store yesterday and looked at it more closely -- it does cost $16, and you use the entire jar for one turkey. Yikes!
  • Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 11:29 am
    Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 11:29 am Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 11:29 am
    One point to consider.

    When you are brining a turkey, you are significantly increasing the sodium content of the product that you are producing.

    Since many people are trying to control their blood pressure and are reducing their sodium content, I think that you have a responsibility to disclose that you have brined the turkey so that the individual will have the opportunity to pass on the turkey if necessary.

    Personally, I don't like the introduction of brining solutions into meat whether they do it at the processor or if done at home.
  • Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 12:15 pm
    Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 12:15 pm Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 12:15 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:When you are brining a turkey, you are significantly increasing the sodium content of the product that you are producing.

    Probably not that much. Most cooks would likely season with salt that the brining makes unnecessary. The difference in a few slices of turkey to anyone not on a completely salt-free diet is slight, and anyone sodium-free would certainly taste the salt.

    In any case, when dining in someone's home, if you are on a special diet, it is your responsibility either to make your dietary concerns clear ahead of time (if the items you are avoiding are seriously health threatening, such as allergens); to make the best of things by eating what you can and leaving the rest (if they are personal preference or of the sort that occasional lapses won't hurt you, such as a weight-loss plan); or to decline the invitation.

    It's OK to tell your hosts at the time the invitation is issued "I'm severely allergic to peanuts, so please make sure I don't eat any," which allows them notice to either drop peanut soup from the menu or provide you with a substitute. It's not reasonable to expect them to recount an ingredient list for each dish, because one guest isn't eating salt, another is avoiding white sugar, a third has cut out trans-fats and so on.

    Brining and salt-curing are not unusual treatments, nor is salt an out-of-the-ordinary ingredient. If you're on a low-salt diet that you dare not ever deviate from, you probably shouldn't accept dinner invitations from anyone except your nearest and dearest who can be expected to make accommodations.
  • Post #19 - December 12th, 2005, 10:33 pm
    Post #19 - December 12th, 2005, 10:33 pm Post #19 - December 12th, 2005, 10:33 pm
    The Saturday before Thanksgiving I took the free Turkey Grilling class offered at Weber Grill Restaurants.

    To start things up, we were offered a choice of drinks: Bloody Mary, hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee and tea. Mind you the Bloody Mary wasn't the virgin variety!

    There were the usual details which would send Gary straight up into the universe. Soaking wood chips. The desirable qualities of billowing smoke, which Gary says creates creosote that Weber clearly doesn't agree. Briquets preferred over wood charcoal. While they may use industrial sized versions of their grills. When it comes to smoking, they use a Southern Pride which they stoke with hickory.

    What I did learn which may be of use here. They advised you can grill a turkey stuffed as long as you preheat the stuffing to very hot and loosely pack it in the cavity. Alternatively you can stuff the cavity with lemon, lime and sage or whatever pleases you.

    They advocate brining and offered their adapted recipe:

    1 gallon apple cider
    1 gallon water
    1-1/2 cup kosher salt
    1-1/2 cup brown sugar
    6 bay leaves
    1/2 bunch thyme
    2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    10 each peeled garlic
    1-1/2 cup shallots (halved)
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    6 tablespoons Weber turkey rub

    Place ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve salts and sugars. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

    Brine 24-48 hours.

    ***

    They served a turkey brined and grilled in the manner suggested during their lecture. It tasted terrific.

    From listening to the people around me, this turkey class is an annual event. It certainly wasn't a waste of time.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - November 21st, 2012, 9:17 am
    Post #20 - November 21st, 2012, 9:17 am Post #20 - November 21st, 2012, 9:17 am
    Hi,

    I do not have space for a five-gallon bucket in my refrigerator. At this time of year, I can often have the brining bucket resting on an enclosed porch. Not today though because the temperatures are expected higher than 40 degrees ... at least without a little additional planning.

    I will make my brine substituting 8 pounds ice for a gallon of water to keep it cold enough. I will insulate it with blankets, too. I may add ice as the day goes on. I have used a cooler, too, for this purpose.

    Turkey will be out of the brine by midnight to air dry in the refrigerator.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - November 21st, 2012, 9:20 am
    Post #21 - November 21st, 2012, 9:20 am Post #21 - November 21st, 2012, 9:20 am
    while typically cooler november temps do help with food storage/cooling. Ill take these 60 degree days as long as they last.

    I don't brine the whole bird(too much space requirements for me). I do brine a breast. Did another bone in breast this year - 7.6 lbs., with my basic poultry brine recipe for 56 hours. Got it out of the brine last night and took the skin off it and applied my pastrami rub. Drying in the fridge for the next 36 hours before hitting the smoke.

    happy thanksgiving folks.

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