Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving - We're going to brine the turkey!

As I mentioned before, we're hosting hubby's family next week for Thanksgiving. I haven't cooked many turkeys because usually we're the guests at someone else's home. When I have, it's been just a turkey breast for our little family. But this year, I'm roasting a 13-pounder. And I'm brining it before I roast it!! Yay!

I'd never heard of brining a turkey until a couple of years ago. Alton Brown on the Food Network devoted a show to brining. Soaking the turkey in a salt brine is supposed to make the turkey retain its juices and help it cook faster. So I thought it would be interesting to try one day. Well, one day is here. You can purchase premade brining mixes at the store, but they're expensive, $10 dollars for a packet of herbs! I combed the internet for brining recipes and decided to make my own simple one. Some called for hard-to-find things like juniper berries, but this one has ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

I have a hard time serving food to guests that I haven't prepared at least once and taste tested on my family. So I decided to try my hand at brining a whole chicken and see if it worked. My guinea, family was eager to try it too. Since the chicken was only 4 pounds, I cut the brining recipe by two-thirds. Didn't want it to be too salty. But for a 13 pound turkey, I'm going with the full recipe.

Simple Turkey Brine

2 gallons water - you can substitute apple juice for some of the water if you like
1 1/2 cups coarse sea salt
3 TBSP minced garlic
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar

Place your turkey in a large bucket with a lid or a hard-side cooler. It must be big enough for your bird and the brining ingredients. Mix the brine and pour over the turkey. Soak the turkey for 24-48 hours. Store in the refrigerator if you have enough space. If you're using a cooler, add enough ice to keep the turkey cold. Change out the ice after 24 hours. Roast or smoke as you normally would, but be aware that it might take less time to cook.

I roasted the whole chicken at 350 degrees for about 90 minutes and it was perfectly cooked. Hubby and I couldn't believe how juicy it was. The kids went back for seconds and thirds. Even the dog got a taste. The juices, however, were a bit salty from the brine, so I don't think it would make good gravy. You might want to take that into consideration if you brine your turkey.

This post is linked to Life as Mom's Frugal Fridays.

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