Brining turkey is nothing new. In fact, chefs have been brining tough poultry for years with very juicy results. Until now, brining was something only chefs or serious foodies were likely to do, because the home cook didn't know a whole lot about it, and most cookbooks didn't include brining recipes. Good thing times have changed. Within the last few years, interest in brining and deep fried turkey has caught fire, most likely due to the heavy marketing of do-it-yourself deep frying turkey kits.
Why Brine a Turkey?
Cooking Light says, "Brining makes for a juicier bird, and the subtle flavors of the brine soak into the turkey. Kosher salt works well for the brine because it dissolves more easily than table salt. If you have time and refrigerator space, the brining procedure is worthwhile. If not, the turkey will still be quite good."
How to Brine a Turkey
Brining the turkey before roasting or deep frying is easy. Brining is essentially a process of marinating the meat which has been soaked in a salt solution before cooking. Flavors, seasonings, herbs and spices can be added to the brine beforehand. The flavorful mixture penetrates the poultry, and makes for a deliciously moist and tender turkey. For the best results, read the article "How To Deep Fry a Turkey: Popular Thanksgiving Recipe", then watch the video, "How to Deep Fry a Turkey for the Holidays" by Alton Brown of the Food Network, Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef.
Stuff and Brine a Turkey
Do not stuff a turkey if you will be deep frying the turkey. It falls apart, and the stuffing doesn't reach the required temperature for food safety. If the brined turkey will be roasted in the oven, then by all means, stuff away. Just be sure to read the stuffing recipe and turkey roasting directions from the producer carefully to make sure it reaches a safe temperature for consumption. When in doubt, roast the turkey by itself, with a casserole dish of stuffing on the side.
Turkey Brining Recipe
Completely thaw a 13-15 pound turkey per instructions on the outside of the turkey. Remove the innards (liver, neck and giblets) from the turkey, and rinse the entire turkey inside and out.
Alton Brown has the best brining method. He fills a large Igloo Cooler with 6 quarts hot water, 1 pound salt, 1 pound brown sugar, and stirs until well mixed. Let it cool it for 15-30 minutes. Add 5 pounds of ice to the brine mixture, and submerge the turkey. Make sure the turkey is covered with the ice water, and let sit for 8-16 hours. Because of all the ice, it's not necessary to refrigerate as long as the water remains cold and there's still ice in the cooler. If the ice thaws, place the bird in the refrigerator for the remainder of the time. That's it. Follow the links above to finish deep frying the turkey.
Emeril Lagasse and Cooking Light have some great turkey brine recipes to add flavor to the bird, but they're not necessary if you just want a basic brined turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Disclaimer: Nervous about deep frying a brined turkey? Don't be. If you follow the guidelines, a deep fried brined turkey is perfectly safe. Just to be sure, we called the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line (1-800-288-8372) and talked to a trained Butterball expert. They assured us as long as you follow the instructions — Don't deep fry any turkey larger than 12-14 pounds; Make sure the turkey is completely patted dry before lowering into the oil — it should be fine. Also, be sure to watch ALL three Alton Brown's Brining and Deep Frying Videos for complete How-To instructions.
Important Numbers, Articles and Recipes
Butterball Article and Hotline
Brining a Turkey Like Alton Brown, Emeril and Cooking Light
Sources: foodnetwork.com; fabulousfoods.com; eatturkey.com; butterball.com; cookinglight.com
Written by Donna Diegel
Exclusive to HULIQ.com