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After The Fact... To Brine Or Not To Brine A Turkey

RascalRascal Posts: 3,802
edited 1:16AM in EggHead Forum
In retrospect, what was your experience? Many peeps praised MM's method (God Bless You, Guy!) while some said 'Never Again'. Could we get a little feedback from both sides as to why it was great (or not)in your situation? Could be a great learning experience for us all![p]Rascal


  • TRexTRex Posts: 2,714
    Rascal,[p]We did the Alton Brown Honey Brine and then roasted per Mad Max, sans herbs and basting, because the drippings would have been too salty from the brine. It turned out great. Breast meat was very moist. The three extended family members in attendance said it was "the best turkey" they've ever had. Kind of hard to qualify that statement, because so many people grow up eating and still eat the "traditional" dried out turkey, but I can say without a doubt it is the juiciest bird I've ever cooked. And the brine was super simple. I'll definitely do it again.[p]TRex
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    Rascal,[p]I have always brined my birds and always will. I use a low salt brine and let them go for about 3-4 days.[p]I use:[p]1 gallon vegetable stock
    1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
    3/4 cup kosher salt
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup honey
    1 tbsp allspice berries
    1 tbsp black peppercorns
    1 tbsp candied ginger
    4 8" twigs fresh rosemary
    10-12 fresh sage leaves[p]I bring it all to a boil, then cool overnight. Add that and a bag of ice to a turkey to submerge. I add ice ass needed over the next several days. Then I remove from the brine and let rest about an hour before cooking.[p]The drippings are no salty and the bird has a great depth of flavor and is very juicy. I also put fresh rosemary twigs and sage leaves under the skin and into the bird cavity along with apple slices, onion quarters, celery and onion.[p]Comes out perfect every time.

  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,802
    Fidel, The ice... does it surround the container/bag holding the turkey & brine? Additional ice goes around the barrier and not in with the brine? Sorry for the dumb questions. I surmise that your method avoids putting everything into a fridge. Thank you...[p]Rascal

  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    Rascal,[p]I use a cooler. The first batch of ice goes into the mixture. Additional ice is added in bags so as to not further dilute the mixture.[p]
  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,802
    Fidel, Thank You!

  • Lawn RangerLawn Ranger Posts: 5,466
    I'll never do one again without brining. It makes a huge difference. As a matter of fact, at Chubby's suggestion, I even brineed a roasting chicken the other night before doing a beer can. In my opinion, there was no comparison. Hands down the brine makes a positive difference.[p]Mike

  • Rascal,
    I did not brine mine. From the reviews I got from the family I don't think it could have been better. Most said it was the best they had eaten. I ran out of lump just a little to soon, I think the thighs could have cooked a tad more. Filled lump to top of firering and it was all I had so I couldn't add more. It only cooked 4.5 hours so this really suprised me. Before I put the turkey in I let it get to 500 deg before I realized it so that may have used my lump even though it was only for a few minutes.
    The gravy was out of this world. I did not add the wine to the gravy (did put it on the turkey) and instead of butter I used the fat from the dripping pan mmmmm, not healthy but man was it good.
    MAX IS THE MAN Thanks again for the great advise.
    My son-in-law is a chef and had to work yesterday so tonight I am cooking a Rib Roast. How else but the Mad Max way. Can't wait to taste it. Hope everyone enjoys turkey sandwichs lol.

  • Rascal,[p]I used RRP's low-salt brine (below). Made the brine, cooled it to room temp overnight, turkey and brine in a brining bag, brining bag in a cooler, ice on top of the brining bag, cooler outside on the balcony for 2 1/2 days. Turned the turkey in the bag once or twice a day, added ice once.[p]I cooked it at 400 -- 16 pounds and it was done in two hours. Threw a few branches of rosemary in the cavity before the frost gets it... It came out beautifully and made great gravy, really flavorful and delicate. I think that's an advantage of the low-salt brines. The brine didn't dominate, more a nice savory spiciness.[p]I've brined chickens before but never a turkey. I'd definitely do it again.
  • BYCBYC Posts: 358
    Rascal,[p]Brine---[p]Reduced prep cook day---All I had to do was rinse and cook
    Moister Turkey--throughout
    Reduced cook times--one of the 18 pounders cooked in 4 hours at 325 with platesetter
    Gives breast a nice sheen--kind of like when you use a mojo[p]I cooked mine to 170 and it was outstanding---I even let it sit for almost 70 minutes before carving---It was all consumed and the stock from the carved turkey was aout 2 cups. I used sourwood honey as the sweetner.

  • Rascal,
    i never brine. .. my turkey is always moist, it always tastes like turkey, and my drippings always make great gravy. .. just my 2 cents. ..

  • BYCBYC Posts: 358
    Rascal,[p]As a sidenote do what we did last year---cook one brined and one not. That pretty much made the decision for us. Little more work upfront but worth the test.

  • Ron_LRon_L Posts: 163
    This was the first time I brined a whole turkey (I've injected in the past)but I always brine turkey breasts, chicken and pork (except ribs) and have never had bad results. For this turkey I used a brine recipe form the Cookshack forum...[p]Smokin’ Okie’s Holiday Turkey Brine:
    1 gal. water
    1 c. coarse kosher salt
    ¾ c. soy sauce
    ½ c. white sugar
    ½ c. brown sugar
    ½ c. honey
    ½ c. apple cider vinegar
    4 Tbsp. black pepper
    3 - 4 Tbsp. chopped garlic
    1 tsp. Allspice[p]I saw some posts from people saying that their brined birds tasted hammy. I am curious about this. If you had a hammy bird can you please post the brine recipe, the size of the bird, how long it was brined and what kind of bird (e.g., was it a "natural" bird or was it self bating, etc.)?[p]...ron

  • BYCBYC Posts: 358
    Ron_L,[p]In my experience brining or spicing food items too soon or long produces a hammy effect. Example rubbing ribs the day before is a big no-no in my book.[p]No hammy taste here---Just simplicity and 2 perfect turkeys.[p]2-18 pounders-Carolina Farms Fresh Turkeys
    4 gallons ice water
    3-4 cups table salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup sourwood honey
    1-2 cups white sugar[p]Brined for 16 hours and cooked both on XL's at 325 using plate setter and one large chunk apple wood. Reached 170 in 4 hours and let rest in Cambro cooler for 70 minutes. Was seriously great turkey. All eaten![p]

  • badbrucebadbruce Posts: 353
    Hi Rascal,
    This year we didn't brine, the previous 3 years we did brine. This years turkey was good but not great as in the previous 3 years.
    The final tell was the day after turkey soup. In the years I've brined I've never had to add any spice to the pot to get great flavor, this years soup is just not as good.
    I will never not brine again.
    Catch the link for a truely great recipe.

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i haven't brined.... brining is done (from what i hear) to help guarantee a moist bird, and add flavor. i can't speak for the flavor aspect, but i have never had a dry bird from the egg. ovens don't overcook food. cooks do! i use my thermapen, and go from that.[p]i have no defense against the thinking that brining adds flavor. but my position w/r/t a moist bird is, brining isn't required, but is a bit of insurance.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    stike,[p]Speaking of overcooking, here is one more brinig tidbit....brining gives you a bigger window for doneness, if you do over cook brined food a bit, it is still moist.[p]~thirdeye~

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
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