a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You're no one unless you brine that turkey

It’s an appropriate time for me to confess to following the trend of brining the Thanksgiving turkey.

The technique of soaking meat in salt water to preserve it and draw out bacteria is as old as the hills. But, the practice fell out of style after modern refrigeration gave us a safer place to store tomorrow's dinner.

Now, foodies are taking another stab at brining as a way to add flavor to any number of cuts of boring meat. I was on to this last Thanksgiving, but gave it a halfhearted attempt because it seemed dead wrong to add too many unfamiliar flavorings to a meal for my waspish relatives to handle in one sitting.

Yet my then-11-year-old picky-eating nephew who usually wants pizza exclaimed at the dinner table that that was the best turkey he had ever tasted. While he had no idea who prepared that bird, he has put in a request now for one “just like we had last year.”

So to satisfy a kid like him, you’ll need a vacation day and 12.7 oz jar of Victoria Taylor’s Traditional Brining Blend. It contains two cups of California sea salt, demerara sugar, spices, Malabar black peppercorns, citric acid, garlic and orange peel.

Blend this aromatic spice kit into two cups of boiling water and then cool it with three cups of ice. If you are really smooth in the kitchen, you will have a giant airtight Zip Lock Bag to use to soak the bird overnight in the fridge in the brine and two gallons of cold water.

Wake up early Thanksgiving to pop that Tom into the oven resting in white wine and vegetables. Don't forget to tie up its legs and cover the breast meat with cheesecloth to keep the white meat moist. I stuff mine with one pear to sweeten the stock for the gravy.

Next up: a recipe for ham glaze.

Drool baby drool.


Alison said...

Well, look who can cook! I've never brined a bird, and I'm not sure I'm going to start Thursday, but I *will* keep it in mind when I feed my family at Christmas.

Oh, and don't forget the Baconnaise for the sammiches on Friday. ;-)

Scott Beveridge said...

I would get that Baconaisse right this minute had 10 extra family members not decided to drop in this year to Thanksgiving dinner. Yet all is good this holiday season.

Michael said...

Well I'll be trying this next fall when I'm home for good...

Sounds awesome!!!

Amanda Gillooly said...

Dude, that is the tried and true method of cooking the bird on the Nizzy. It's either brined or nothing! Happy Thanksgiving friend!!
-Big Girl

randilee said...

You are so sweet! Taking a day off just to make your nephew happy. If I didn't have a houseful of people coming over for dinner I would be tempted to take a little drive to Webster!
Have a great Thanksgiving!