To Brine or not to Brine

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To me there really is no question- once you brine, there is no going back!

Brining is particularly used to moisten the meat through soaking in a large amount of kosher salt, water, and sometime brown sugar. What it does to your holiday turkey is simply amazing, the juices literally burst open into the roasting pan.

I use a mixture of apple cider, ice water, brown sugar and a ½ cup salt for every two cups liquid for brine. If your turkey is very large you can buy a plastic bucket at the hardware store. Line it with a clean garbage bag. Rinse the turkey inside and out and submerse in icy brine. Refrigerate. There are also extra large disposable plastic brining bags you can buy at most cooking stores and Fresh Market. Fresh Market also sells a honey brine kit, simply add boiling water- dissolve and chill before adding turkey.

If you are still a little leery, try brining a chicken several weeks before the big holiday feast. You will see how easy it is and the amount of moisture it adds.

To make the brine bring the liquids, sugar and salt to a boil until the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. Chill until at least room temperature before adding turkey, or poultry. Refrigerate overnight for best results. Always rinse the bird before cooking to rinse off some of the excess salt and remember that using the drippings from turkey that has been brined often makes for salty gravy, so better to use only a ½ cup and use turkey stock to make up the difference.

Do remember whether you brine or not, always pat the turkey dry, season with a combination of Bells poultry seasoning, garlic salt, paprika and fresh ground pepper and a little added ground sage. Trust me, once you brine you will never go back. Expect the juiciest bird ever.

As the Culinary Director for ABC 7, I whip up cooking segments on ABC 7 News at Noon, along with recipes, cooking tips, reviews and great food finds on MySuncoast Dining at www.mysuncoast.com