To Brine or Not to Brine.
Do you plan on Brining your Shelton's Turkey? Here's some great tips for making it easy and stress free.
Brining has been building in popularity for the last several years. What exactly is Brining and how does it work? Well I'm no scientist, but after some deep diving into the knowledge pool, I've come up with a reasonable understanding.
Brining means simply to soak your Turkey, Chicken, or other meat in a solution of salt and water (or other liquid). Soaking in this solution then helps break down the sheathing around the muscle fibers in meat. If that muscle fiber remains intact, then when it's cooked it shrinks and squeezes the moisture from the muscle, resulting in a drier bird. If you brine your turkey or chicken, that sheathing is 'denatured' and will not shrink as much, leaving more moisture in your meat. Easy Peasy.
A basic brine for Turkeys and Chickens is 6% salt (about 1 cup per gallon) and water. Pretty basic stuff. Why 6%? According to all the articles that I've ever read on the subject, that is the magic amount of salt to water that will accomplish the goal of brining, while not overly salting the meat. We're not making Jerky here. There are literally thousands of recipes for Turkey brines on the interwebs. Most of them call for sugar, fruit juice, herbs, pepper corns, etc. All that seems great and sounds like it's amazing, but the main ingredient is the salt. All of the other ingredients impart a bit of themselves in the process, and distract from the saltiness that is inevitable after soaking for several hours.
Here's are a couple of recipes we have used at Shelton's over the years. They work great and the Shelton's Turkeys and Chickens we tried them on are always moist and delicious. Enjoy!
Basic Brine for Turkey and Chicken
1 cup Salt (Kosher or other non iodized salt)
1 gallon of water
1/4 Cup sugar, or 2 cups fruit juice (apple, pineapple, etc)
The night before roasting your turkey, remove the turkey from the bag, remove the neck and giblets (reserve for other use) and rinse the turkey in cold water. In a large pot, big enough for the turkey, mix all the ingredients with the water and stir to dissolve the salt. Place turkey into the pot with the brine solution making sure it's fully covered with the liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Before cooking, remove turkey from brine and discard the liquid. Rinse the turkey with cold water inside and out before preparing for roasting.
If you are limited on space in the fridge, you can use an ice chest that's been thoroughly cleaned. Place your turkey and the brine in the cleaned ice chest and add ice to fill. You can leave this turkey in the brined ice water bath over night, and again take it out and rinse it thoroughly before preparing to roast. If your ice chest is too big, consider using a turkey brining/ roasting bag (or any food safe bag it will fit in). Place the turkey in the bag, pour in the brine, seal the bag per the bag's instructions, and place in the ice chest over night. Make sure to use lots of ice, you don't want the turkey to get warm over night.
Check out these other great Brine Recipes
Fantastic Savory Turkey Brine
2 gallons Cold Water
10 oz Soy Sauce (or wheat free Tamari for Gluten sensitive turkey lovers)
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dried Sage
2 Tablespoons dried Celery Seed
1 Tablespoon dried Thyme