"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

Every year that the holidays start approaching we think of all the family and friends we are thankful to have in our lives. While we lived on the East Coast during Jacks graduate school we developed some wonderful friends whom became our family while we were away from home. We have fond memories of 4am train rides to NYC to see the Macey's Day Parade where we froze nearly to death. A yearly Thanksgiving Feast with the Strobel family, who turned us on to Turkey Brining! Brining your turkey makes the bird incredibly moist. We have tried various recipes over the years and enjoyed them all. I think it is because they make the bird so MOIST and give it incredible flavor.

So this year I hadn't payed much attention to what I was going to do with the bird. HELLO that's the main course of Thanksgiving what was I thinking! So Wednesday night I did a quick Internet search for Brine that I might possibly have all the ingredients on hand. In years past it has required fresh herbs, lemons, and more items that I typically don't keep in the pantry/fridge. So this year we tried one from allrecipes.com that the contributor said her uncle that loves to smoke meats had given her. Jack loves smoked meats so I thought I would give it a try. The original recipe said to soak the turkey in the brine for 1-2 days. I had barely 12 hours, but gave it a shot anyway. We were pleased with the results. So I share the recipe I used and them method I used after reading a few recipes in a pinch.

Brine Ingredients:
2 gallons water
1 1/2 cups canning/pickling salt
3 Tablespoons minced garlic (I used jarred, but wish it were FRESH)
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

In a 5 gallon bucket or container large enough to hold your turkey, mix together the water, salt, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. (I personally lined my 5 gallon bucket with a food safe bag-aka clean garbage bag. This helps with clean up and you can also twist the bag up tight so that the brine is completely surrounding the turkey.) Store in a refrigerator, and soak turkey for at least 12 hours (most recipes I read said at least 1 day some up to 2 days). I personally don't have that much room in my fridge for it. A blessing of living in Northern Wyoming was that I could leave my bucket outside because it has been below 40 degrees. If you don't have room or the option having it be cold outside. Put it in a cooler with ice packs on it to keep the bird refrigerated at least at 40 degrees.

After brining is complete. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse well with cold water. Pat dry. Cook bird according to package directions. Our was in a 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours for a 16.5 lb bird. Remove the lid the last 30 minutes for browning and frequent temperature checking.

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