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Thanksgiving Recipes: Brining Your Turkey For The Juiciest, Tastiest Turkey, You'll Ever Eat..


Why brine?

Brining benefits are numerous.

Basically, when meat is soaked in a salt and/or sugar solution, some of the liquid will go through the cell walls into the cells.

This is referred to as brining meat, and brining makes turkey meat juicier by increasing the amount of liquid inside the meat walls.

The added bonus is with the addition of salt, and sometimes sugar, and peppercorns to the water, the turkey also is seasoned perfectly without the need for additional seasoning before or after roasting.

Brining keeps the turkey breast meat moist, even if it overcooks by 10 degrees or so. As the meat absorbs some of the water during the process, and as water is a heat conductor, this also expedites cooking time.

In fact, I’ve found that a brined bird cooks faster than an unbrined bird by about 30 minutes.

I also brine a turkey or turkey breast not only for the taste and juiciness, but also for the do-ahead convenience. Wouldn’t you love to bring a succulent, juicy, perfectly browned turkey to the table this Thanksgiving? Here’s how.

Brine Roasted Turkey

* 2 Gallons COLD Water
* 2 Cups Kosher Salt (read notes below)
* 2 Tabs. Whole Peppercorns, coarsely cracked (optional)
* (2 Cups Brown Sugar – see below – also optional)
* 1 Turkey, fresh or thawed frozen, 12-18 lbs.
* Medium Onions, cut into chunks
* Carrots, scraped, cut into chunks
* Celery Ribs, cut into chunks
* Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
* Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
* Leaves of Fresh Sage or Sprigs of Fresh Oregano
* Approx. 6 Tab. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or unsalted Butter (see below)

Brine Your Turkey:

The Turkey:
You can successfully brine any fresh turkey or thawed frozen turkey with the EXCEPTIONS of Kosher Turkeys, which have already been salted, and any turkey that is self-basting or pre-basted – these turkeys have already been injected with salty broth and sometimes fat.
( Jungle Jim’s has an abundance of fresh turkeys – if you have not roasted a fresh turkey, please treat yourself to one this year!).

Turkey Prep:
The day before roasting (and you don’t have to fool with the raw turkey on Thanksgiving Day – convenience), take fresh or a thawed frozen turkey out of its wrapping.

Remove giblets, neck, and tailpiece from the bird and rinse thoroughly inside and out under cold running water.

(You can make a stock with the giblets for turkey gravy ahead of time if you wish.)

Safety always: Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils touched by raw poultry with hot soapy water.

Seasoning:
I prefer Kosher Salt to table salt in brining because of its texture and taste.

If you insist on using table salt, use half as much. I also like to add 2 tablespoons of Whole Peppercorns, coarsely cracked, for flavor.

Sometimes, I also add brown sugar to round out the flavor.

If using the brown sugar, add 2 cups of brown sugar and 2 cups of Kosher Salt to 4 Cups of water and then cook over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolves – you must cool the mixture before adding to the two gallons of cold water to brine the turkey.

Otherwise, simply add the 2 Cups of Kosher Salt and peppercorns to the 2 gallons of COLD water and stir until salt dissolves.

Container:
You can brine in a extra large stock pot or you can line a clean bucket with a clean kitchen garbage bag and use that to brine your turkey in.

If you do not have room in your refrigerator, you can brine the turkey in a clean container with the cold water and a weighted lid in a cool garage or basement or chest that will remain 40 degrees or colder the entire time of the brining.

Timing:
If you are going to brine your turkey 8-15 hours or overnight, use the recipe above for 2 cups of Kosher Salt to the 2 gallons of cold water.

If you are going to brine your turkey for only 4-6 hours, then use 4 Cups of Kosher Salt to the 2 Gallons of Cold Water.

Dissolve 2 Cups of Kosher Salt in 2 gallons of COLD water in a large stockpot or line a clean bucket with a large kitchen garbage bag and pour the water into that.

Add the cracked peppercorns. Then, add turkey to the saltwater and refrigerate 4-8 hours or overnight.

If you do not have room in your refrigerator to brine the turkey, you can put the turkey with a weighted lid on it in a cool basement or garage or ice chest that is 40 degrees or colder.

Air-Drying For A Crisp Skin:
The night before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the brine.

Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a flat wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet or pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours. In test kitchens, it was discovered that allowing the turkey to sit uncovered in the refrigerator overnight before roasting produced a roasted bird with a crackling, crisp, brown skin.

Apparently, the residual moisture left in the skin from brining has an opportunity to evaporate during the overnight rest in the refrigerator.

The skin now crisped in the oven instead of steaming from the excess moisture.

An added benefit is that now you do not need to pat the skin dry before brushing with oil or butter at the time of roasting.

If you do not want to air-dry overnight, simply remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine.

Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels.

Roasting:
Place your oven rack in the lowest position. This allows for even, allover browning and keeps breast away for hot spots near top of oven.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss one third of the onions, carrots, and celery with a sprig of each fresh herb and one tablespoon of melted butter in a medium bowl – fill the turkey cavity with the vegetable mixture.

You do not need to salt and pepper your turkey as it has been seasoned by brining.

Tuck wings behind back. Using kitchen twine or 100% cotton string, tile the legs LOOSELY at the ankles. Tying them too tightly can prevent the thighs from cooking evenly.

Set a roasting v-rack in a roasting pan with low sides.

Spray rack with vegetable cooking spray.

(A roasting rack keeps the bird steady and elevated so air flows underneath the bird for more even cooking. Some racks come with handles that make it easy to lift out of the pan.)

Scatter remaining vegetables and herbs in the roasting pan and pour one cup of water over the vegetables.

(Periodically during roasting time, make sure that the water doesn’t completely evaporate, adding water ½ cup at a time, so you don’t burn your vegetables and drippings you’ll be using for flavoring in the gravy.)

Brush or rub the turkey skin with melted butter or extra virgin olive oil.

Find more recipes like this one at;
http://www.myfreecookbooks.com

Submitted by:

Allison Twitt

Allison Twitt is a professional chef. Check out gourmet cookbooks she uses at http://www.myfreecookbooks.com.





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