Well, it is Turkey Season! The winter winds are blowing in cooler on the island, which tells me its time to get ready to “hot up” the kitchen and let the feasting season begin. Turkeys are definitely a part of most Crucian gatherings during this time. But nothing will get you talked about faster than being the person who brought the “dry turkey” to the family party. The year I made my first Thanksgiving Turkey was filled with much anxiety, as in the past I was one of those voices who whispered about how dry the turkey for Cousin So-and-So was. My heart feared the culinary karma I thought might come my way. So, I read every cookbook I could get my hands on, and every article on how to make the PERFECT turkey. And I kept bumping into the word “Brine”. Brining is a way of introducing moisture by using a high ratio of salt and other seasonings to the Turkey.
Generally, the ratio is 5 Gallons of liquid to 1 1/2 to 2 cups of salt, then the flavorings of your choice. Bring the water to a simmer, then add the salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved and add the other flavorings of your choice, including, but not limited to: black pepper, orange peels, thyme, garlic, onions, or any other flavors. The high salt content will help the liquid penetrate the Turkey. Cool the brine completely. Bring it to room temperature. Then add enough ice to bring the temperature of the water to about 40 degrees. Then in a brining bag with the turkey inside pour the brine over the turkey, seal, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, plunge the turkey into clean cold water for about twenty minutes to take off all the excess salt. Pat it dry, then roast.
I have seen recipes that add apple or orange juice to the liquid and the addition of brown sugar. I’ve never tried this version. I don’t like the introduction of sweetness to the turkey or fruit flavor. However, feel free to experiment. You only have to bear the burden of a whisper for your epic failure, or the hearty applause for your epic TRIUMPH! The kitchen always rewards your curiosity. Even if it is only to say, “Never try that again.”
Be careful, because some turkeys come pre-brined with injections of saline solutions from the factory. Brining these turkeys will cause your turkey to be TOO SALTY. Fresh turkeys are the best candidates for a solid brine.
Also, flipping your turkey over instead of roasting it with the breast facing up is another great juicy turkey tip. The fat from the back of the turkey drips down into the drier white meat of the bird, making for a great turkey! You won’t have the gorgeous full-breasted look, but it is worth it to me.
Enjoy your holidays!