Turkey Day Remembered: The Brine

Hi gang, you might have noticed that I didn’t do any posting last week. We had some family stuff going on that was more important than writing about food (and I like writing about food, so you get the idea). Anyway, I know everyone’s moved on from Thanksgiving and is now focusing on Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and the like, but I wanted to do a few posts about what we made for Turkey Day, partially because, as I mentioned, I like writing about food and also so I can remember next year what I did this year because we had a pretty damn good meal if I do say so myself.

Longtime readers might remember that I actually handled the turkey last year when we were at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. That was a straightforward bird-in-the-oven process, but this year we decided to try brining the turkey beforehand. I did some looking around in various cookbooks and on some different websites, but decided to go with Alex Guarnaschelli’s Thanksgiving Turkey Brine as posted over on Food Network’s site.

Before last week, I’d heard of a brine, but never made one. That basic idea is that you soak meat (or whatever you’re going to eventually cook) in a water based solution with several other spices, herbs and kinds of food you want the subject to take on. In the case of Guarnaschelli’s turkey brine, I liked that it included two full bulbs of garlic, soy sauce, molasses, honey and a pound of salt. The only change I made was using some dried thyme instead of fresh because I couldn’t find the latter at my grocery store.

The process was actually pretty simple. The first step involves boiling three quarts of water and then pouring it over the salt. I knew this would involve a lot of water and wasn’t sure if I had a bowl large enough, so utilized both of my larger stock pots. After that, you just add in all the ingredients, clean off your turkey and start soaking.

I bought one of those Styrofoam beer coolers to brine the turkey, but it looked a little small and awkwardly shaped, so instead I went with a collapsible, circular cooler we have lined with a large plastic food bag we found at the grocery store. I poured a bag of ice in the bottom of the cooler, then put the bagged turkey inside and finally, carefully poured the brine into the bag. Once it was all in, I closed the top with a twist-tie and then added more ice around the bag. With that all done, I moved the cooler into the bathtub just in case we sprung a leak. The turkey soaked over Wednesday night and went into the oven on Thursday. To see how that turned out, stay tuned!

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