Saturday, December 27, 2014

Brining a turkey

I brined my very first turkey this week, and with a couple of small changes, I would so totally do this again.

Next time I won't use as much salt, and I would totally up the aromatics, but I will do this again.

I'd seen a post about brining a turkey and using the veggie drawer in the fridge for the brining container  on The Kitchn

And it made sense to me.  I've wanted to try brining, but I had no room at the inn, well, I didn't have the fridge space, so...

That idea got put on hold. 

Until I read about brining a turkey in the refrigerator drawer.

It was one of those D'uh moments.    And so I cleared out the bottom drawer and proceeded to lay my turkey in it, had to make sure it fit.   And it did.  So I left it there to thaw.
I know you're not supposed to brine a frozen turkey, most of them already have some kind of liquid added to them somewhere along the line.  
However, I did it anyway.

I kinda followed a recipe from Pioneer Woman, 

But because I had a small turkey, I didn't need as much of everything, and shame, horror, dismay here, I forgot the garlic. sigh

Here's my recipe:

2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/2 cup salt, more like an enthusiastic 1/4 cup. 
2 oranges, peel cut off, and some of the juice squeezed into the pot
2-3 tablespoons peppercorns
3 cloves of garlic (which I forgot)
2 quarts of water

Add all this together, let it come to a boil, turn off and let cool.  
Then take the turkey out of the wrapper, rinse it off, make sure that the little ice chunk in the cavity is removed.  
Place the rinsed turkey in a cooking bag, and put the turkey into the refrigerator drawer.  You need to do it in that order, really. 
You could put the turkey in bag, pour the brine over it and then try to maneuver it into the drawer, but it's really hard to do. 
OK, so I tried it.  Sheesh,
Pour the brining liquid over the turkey, expel as much air as possible from the bag, and tie it off.   The turkey should be pretty submerged.  I put my turkey in breast side down, as I wanted the brine to get into the breast meat. 

And you don't want to brine it very long, just overnight.   I did turn the turkey over after about 5 hours, which was an adventure unto itself.  sigh.   And I found out how important it is to make sure your drawer doesn't leak.   My bag did leak, but the drawer contained it all.   You can see it in the above picture.

When you take it out of the brine, rinse, rinse, rinse that turkey.
In other words, you want to remove as much of the brine as possible.  

Take out of the sink, and pat it dry.   (You did remember to scrub the sink before and after you rinsed the turkey, didn't you? )

Then, have some fun.
Loosen the skin on the breast and place some seasoned butter in there, as evenly as you can.   I usually add some poultry seasoning to some softened butter, and use that.  No added salt, you won't need it. 
Take a little of the butter and rub over the top of the skin as well.     I also stuffed some celery, onion and carrot into the cavity, for flavours sake.  

Insert a thermometer into the thigh, and monitor the temperature.  Roast at 325 for about 20-25 minutes per pound, or until the thermometer reaches 165 degrees, and if you're old school, like me, the drumstick moves easily.  
I did say to have fun with the food.  You can make a whole production out of wiggling the drumstick if you want. 

Never mind.

Just roast it until it's golden brown, and if it's browning too fast or too much, tent some foil over the top.

Discard the juices that came off of the turkey as it was cooking.   It's way too salty to use.  
Go ahead, taste it.
See, I was right.
I actually took the turkey neck, giblets and heart out first, and didn't brine them.  I just roasted them the day before I cooked the turkey, then threw them violently into a pot, covered them with water, added carrot, celery and onion alongside some poultry seasoning and cooked them to make a broth, which I used to make the gravy from.  You can also take the meat off of the turkey neck and add it alongside the chopped giblets and heart to the gravy, but I didn't.   I ate them instead.  
Don't tell anyone, OK?

After that just carve the turkey however you like, and serve.  

I put the bones into the freezer and will be making some stock out of it in the next little while.

I can't wait, some lovely turkey soup with home made noodles.  Nothing like it.

Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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