To Brine Or Not To Brine?

Brining is the process of soaking your meat in salt water at least overnight before you cook it. Since the meat absorbs some of that water, it’ll stay moist throughout cooking, leaving  you with a bird that doesn’t need to be absolutely drenched in gravy come dinnertime. According to Serious Eats, by brining your meat, you can decrease the amount of moisture loss by 30 to 40 percent. The topic of whether or not to brine your Thanksgiving turkey has been up for debate as of late, so much that even the teachers in your culinary school programs probably argue about. The people over at Buzzfeed think it’s stupid and wrong while Fine Cooking swears by it.

Some people don’t brine their Thanksgiving turkey because it’s an exhaustive effort. When preparing a turkey for a large family get-together, you’re likely to have a large bird. It has to be submerged in a large enough tank to be completely covered with water and kept cold the entire time. It’s common to actually leave it outside if the weather is cold enough. Some people enjoy the moist bird, and others think soaking it in salt water makes their turkey taste watered down.If you do choose to brine your turkey next week, here are a few options from the Food Network aside from the typical salt water combo:

  • Cajun brine: Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has brined his turkey with a Louisiana-style brine, giving it a spicy flavor. If you’re looking for something to make you sweat a little, try this brine that uses in-your-face flavors like paprika, chili powder, cayenne and chile de arbol.
  • Maple bourbon brine: One of Guy Fieri’s eccentric recipes will satisfy your sweet tooth before you even get to the pumpkin pie. This brine uses maple syrup, bourbon and red chili flakes for a little bit of a kick.
  • Apple cider brine: Anne Burrell combines fall’s favorite flavors in this apple cider brine. Incorporating cider into the salt water mixture gives the turkey’s juice a little more flavor. Herbs and vegetables are also included in the brine, making your turkey taste like a Thanksgiving cornucopia.
  • Dry brine: Rather than using any liquid at all, Alton Brown uses a dry brine to flavor his turkey. A mix of herbs and spices like sage, thyme, peppercorns and allspice berries combined with salt allows the turkey’s natural juices to taste rich and flavorful without the watered-down taste.

Regardless of how much moisture brining helps you retain, there is no doubt that brining your turkey allows you to change up the flavor of your traditional bird. Change it up this year and see how your family and friends like it.

Recommended Posts