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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brining the Turkey

We have all heard of bringing meat. It is usually white meats than can be dry after cooking, Turkey Chicken and Pork.
Our grandmothers did it and it appears to be back in vogue.
There are 2 types of brine a wet and a dry.
Both brine's require salt. A wet brine in a salted water solution often with sugar and some spices or aromatic]s. Dry brine just requires the bird to be rubbed with salt mixture.
The downside of the wet bringing of a turkey is the large container you require to submerge the bird in the bring solution.
Both need to be done about  6-24 hours before cooking and left in the fridge. They can be done 3 days ahead.Some say, cover, some say, don't. For me, I cover it, especially if you have a fridge that is being constantly opened or you are storing other food products in the same fridge.
The whole process is a kind of osmosis.
Certain muscle proteins are naturally dissolved by the salt in the brine solution. Once these proteins are dissolved, muscle fibres lose some of their ability to contract when cooking. Lack of contraction of the fibres leads to less internal moisture loss which in turn leads to juicier meat in the cooked bird.
Of course you still must be careful with the cooking of your bird but the brining will give you a very succulent turkey.

Dry Brine
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns crushed
2 tablespoons  thyme
2 tablespoons sage
zest of a lemon and orange

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Rub the whole turkey generously with a smaller amount on the legs and wings. Place in a large dish in the fridge and cover with cling film.

Rinse and pat dry the day of cooking. You may like to put some butter under the skin of the turkey prior to cooking or cover in bacon rashers.

Place the turkey in a preheated oven at 200 and cook for 30 minutes.
Turn down the heat and cook for a further 2 hours. If browning too quickly cover with foil.
A meat thermometer is a great idea and they aren't expensive. The internal temp must be 75 degrees at the thickest part. If you haven't covered with bacon brush often with butter in the final stages of cooking.
Happy Xmas