Brining the Turkey

The week of Thanksgiving, Tuesday night is brining night. Tonight I picked up my birds from Whole Foods...yes, I said birds...and brought them home to soak in the simple tangyness of a salt/sugar/spice/water blend. I picked up two birds this year so I could try my hand at deep frying a turkey, something I have always wanted to do. And on the off chance it blows up...I will have my backup turkey in the oven slowly roasting.

I am sitting in my kitchen staring at my freshly made gallon and a half of homemade chicken stock and smiling at the thought of my two little birds marinating away. Generally, a brine is used to help pull extra moisture out of meat and replace it with salt through osmosis. For a better description than I can hope to give, I refer you to the expert in all things food science, Harold McGee.So as not to confuse you, I should point out that this year, McGee is decidedly anti-brine. Whatever.

For a two gallon brine, here is what I did:

  1. In a saucepan, dissolve 2 cups of salt in 2 quarts of water. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and most of the hard round spices you have such as peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, etc. I threw in some poultry seasoning and bay leaves this year. And in one batch I added cidar instead of brown sugar.

  2. After the mixture is dissolved, pour into a container (I use a hunter orange Home Depot bucket when the weather is cold enough to store the turkey in the garage over night) and add ice and cold water until you have two gallons cold brine water.

  3. Rinse off turkey (always rinse meat before you use it as bacteria grows on the outside) and submerge in container. I use the vegetable drawer in my fridge when the weather is you can see in pics.
Before making my brine tonight I surfed in the internet for new ideas. I didn't find any that I liked, but I did stumble across someone's technique for making sure you have enough salt in your water. They claim that you can tell you brine is salty enough if a raw egg (still in shell) floats in the water.

I tried this in extremely salty water and my egg fell right to the bottom. For my second batch of brine, I tried floating the egg before diluting the water all the way and it still didn't float. I was really hoping to have fun little trick to share with you...but alas, I don't. Unless you wanted to know a trick that doesn't work.

My chickens aren't fully submerged in my fridge drawers as that much water weight would surely do damage, so I will flip the birds occasionally Tomorrow night I rinse them off and leave them in the empty bins to air dry a bit...further evaporating more water and condensing that salt.

For more tips on my turkey roasting and deep frying...check back with me.