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Brine: The Key to a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Ever wonder why Grandma’s turkey was a wee bit on the dry side? Probably because it hadn’t spent the night soaking in a brine.

My husbands job is to make the turkey, I am not about to wrestle with a slimy, naked, dead bird. Ew, no thanks! However, I do enjoy a slice or two of perfectly roasted turkey on Thanksgiving day. Thanks to my husband, I have discovered that one doesn’t have to drown the turkey in gravy to make it edible.

The trick is to create a brine and let your bird soak (with all the gizzards/giblets/innards removed) overnight. For me this gets a little tricky because I live in fear of bacteria. We make this work by getting the cooler out, using a large basin or bucket and putting the soaking bird inside with ice and leaving it on the porch.

The next day, simply drain the brine off, rinse the bird, then move it to the roasting pan. Now you want to coat the turkey with oil (don’t be stingy). Brown the bird in a 500 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about 30 minutes, then cover with foil, pop a meat thermometer in, reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and cook your turkey until it reaches a lovely 165 degrees.

So, what is a brine you ask? Well, a myriad of ideas can be found with a simple google search. Whatever brine you want to use, start with 1 cup of (kosher) salt and 2 gallons liquid (we always use half chicken or vegetable broth and half water). Add sweetness (brown sugar), spice (cayenne) and seasonings (garlic) to your taste.

Husbands favorite seasonings include brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and ginger. Then he stuffs the turkey full of good stuff (that we don’t eat) to add additional flavor during the roasting time. These aromatics include sliced apples or pears, onions, fresh herbs, garlic cloves, cinnamon, lemon, orange peel, etc…

Whatever flavors you choose, soaking your turkey in a brine is sure to make Thanksgiving day a much juicer experience.

Photo from Dreamstime under RF-LL License.

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