Monday, November 22, 2010

To Brine or Not to Brine

I posted my Thanksgiving Plan the other day, and since then have had lots of discussions on Facebook and by email about brining (BTW, that's not my turkey in that picture, just one I found on the Internet :-). Friends who haven't brined before wanted to know what the big deal is, and if it's worth the effort. I wholeheartedly say YES. It makes the meat so much moister. Last year, nearly the entire turkey was eaten--leaving me with almost no leftovers, LOL. But it was a huge hit around here, so it's a no-brainer to brine again this year.

I use Alton Brown's brining recipe. He has two of them--one on the Food Network that calls for a few ingredients that are hard to find here (allspice berries? Geesh, I have trouble finding shallots in my grocery store), and then this one, which is in his I'm Just Here for the Food book. That's the one I'm planning on using (though I have to admit to being tempted to try Anne Burrell's when I saw it on Food Network the other day).
I don't stuff my turkey, either. I used to, but have had great success putting aromatics in it--rosemary, garlic, onion, lemon and sage--and then rubbing butter all over it. I always worry about the food poisoning thing with stuffing the bird anyway. And I'm impatient enough not to want to wait for the extra cooking time ;-)
So tell me, do you brine your turkey? Are you going to try it this year? Or are you a deep fryer? Or someone who skips the turkey all together?


  1. I was thinking about brining and that recipe just confirmed it. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome! Hope it turns out fabulous!!

  3. Thank goodness my mom cooks the turkey and not me! We get together at my parents' place and everybody brings some part of the meal (I bring the cake; go figure) and it's always a great time.

    Here's a fun series of clips from The West Wing where know-it-all President Bartlett gets his comeuppance from the Butterball Hot Line:

  4. Hey, dessert is a very vital part of the meal! :-) I'm such a control freak that I do pretty much the entire meal myself. I'm always worried some critical component will not be there because someone's late or sick or something.

  5. Anonymous5:00 AM

    Okay Shirley, now that you love brining. Time to look up Mark Bittman's turkey recipe on the internet where you actually cut out the spine of the turkey and push it down and spread it out to cook it in a portion of the time. I did an 17 pound turkey in about 2 1/2 hrs...This method guards against the breast drying out. But it takes paying attention to how to achieve this...Now, I love cooking TG and in the kitchen half as long!
    Jan Petrie/chicago-cathy shouse friend

  6. That sounds like a cool idea, Jan! Maybe one of these days I'll try that!


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