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Old 11-25-2013, 04:58 PM   #1
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My First Fresh Turkey

I have always bought frozen turkeys and today I picked up a fresh Butterball turkey.
I don't think it has any salt solution? It says 5% water. Not sure, but will double check.

Must I brine this?
If yes, I have a large cooler I can use, but not sure about a brine recipe?
The weather will be cool, not cold.
I could fill bags with ice and submerge them into the brine.

Thanks for any advice.........John

I am certain this question has been asked many times over. I tried to search just the brine with mixed results.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:07 PM   #2
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The are many brine recipes online. I use the Alton Brown/Good Eats Thanksgiving turkey recipe. The key is to get the right concentration of salt and sugar in the liquid. The rest is optional.

The brine has to be cold when you put the turkey in it. If the temps will be less than 40F overnight, you should be OK. Even if the temps are higher, iced brine in a cooler should easily remain cold in a cool environment for a half day.

Enjoy!
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:14 PM   #3
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Thanks Andy.

I also have a stainless steel injector, that I never use. Should I inject some of the brining liquid?

How much of a difference does brining actually make. I do have a lot to do and if its not that important, I may skip it and just season the bird well?

Oh.......If I do brine, can I still sprinkle kosher salt (I have a seasoning mix I make) on the turkey. I like to crisp the skin and the salt and other dry seasonings helps with flavor and crispness.

Update. Its going to be plenty cold. 41 for the high and 21 for the low.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:25 PM   #4
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Brining makes a significant difference. It ensures moist breast meat, even if you overcook it a bit. It's also a means of introducing flavors to the bird. There is no need to inject the brine. It will make the bird too salty. You don't have to brine.

If you choose to brine, prior to roasting, take the bird out of the brine and rinse it thoroughly in fresh water to get rid of extra saltiness. Then dry off the bird inside and out and let it sit uncovered so the skin dries out a bit. Rub oil on the skin before roasting. Do not add salt. It's salt overkill if you brine.

If you follow the recipe I referenced, you'll be fine.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:40 PM   #5
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I'm glad you asked this, John. I just picked my way through most of a thread and never did see an actual brine recipe or link to one. It would be nice to have that information available right here.
I'll be following along on your first fresh turkey. I did see Katie H say she uses one of those sports drink coolers and that seemed like a fantastic idea. Narrow, tall and a spigot on the bottom.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
I'm glad you asked this, John. I just picked my way through most of a thread and never did see an actual brine recipe or link to one. It would be nice to have that information available right here.
I'll be following along on your first fresh turkey. I did see Katie H say she uses one of those sports drink coolers and that seemed like a fantastic idea. Narrow, tall and a spigot on the bottom.

Since you asked...

Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Thanks for the link, Andy. I didn't even want to look in case he had several brine recipes.
So that's the AB brine everyone says they use? Including the one gallon of vegetable stock? Holy Moly.
Do you make your own vegetable stock for this or buy it since it's only a brine?
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:28 PM   #8
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I love Alton's brine recipe and technique, but the only part I use is the brining section. And, pac, I use commercially-made vegetable stock. As far as I am concerned, I save the good homemade stuff for consumption.

When I cook my turkey I make a basting mixture of lots of melted unsalted butter and white wine. In that basting liquid I submerge and soak enough white cheesecloth to cover the turkey.

I drape the turkey with the soaked cheesecloth and baste with the wine-butter liquid as the bird cooks. I've discovered that this keeps the basting liquid on the bird longer.

Once it's done and I gently peel off the cheese cloth, I put said cheesecloth into my giblet broth that I use to make gravy. What this does is to extract lots and lots of good flavor from cooking the turkey. I agitate the cheesecloth with tongs until it looks like there's little left to remove and then gently squeeze it out.

Just my way of doing our turkey.

Roll_Bones, you reminded me of a great memory. When I lived in the Washington, DC area, there was a turkey farm, Maple Lawn Farms, that had the most wonderful fresh turkeys and I'm happy to see they're still around.

I'd just call them a few weeks before the day I needed my turkey, request the dressed size I wanted, and arrange to pick it up 24 hours ahead of my meal.

They were the best turkeys. The last one we got from them was a beast of 32 pounds. It was sooooooo good! I miss doing that.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:30 PM   #9
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Alton's "recipe" is just a blueprint.

The only thing not to monkey with is the salt: water ratio. Everything else is about your taste

You can use water instead of vegetable stock. I do. I also use soy sauce to replace a little of the salt.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:33 PM   #10
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Thanks, Katie.
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Old 11-25-2013, 07:31 PM   #11
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Alton's brine is fantastic, I'm using it again this year. I've had so many people tell me that it's the best turkey that they have ever had.

I don't do the aromatics. Does anyone here do the aromatics and does it really make a difference?

Trader Joe's has vegetable stock for around $1.99 per qt. They also have the candied ginger from the recipe quite cheap.
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Old 11-25-2013, 08:13 PM   #12
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Check the wrapper carefully to make sure it hasn't already been processed -- I.e. already brined.

The last fresh butterball I used was already processed like that.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:11 PM   #13
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I've been using Better Than Bouillon vegetable base and adding it to water to make veggie stock. It's much cheaper than a gallon of boxed (or canned) veggie stock.

As I said in my earlier post, keep the salt and sugar concentrations and everything else is optional. You don't need to use the candied ginger, allspice berries, etc.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
Check the wrapper carefully to make sure it hasn't already been processed -- I.e. already brined.

The last fresh butterball I used was already processed like that.
I re-read the complete packaging and its says its got 5% water only and the meat guy at Costco confirmed it is fine to brine this turkey.
But looking at the ingredients I do see sodium listed. So, I am a bit confused at this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I've been using Better Than Bouillon vegetable base and adding it to water to make veggie stock. It's much cheaper than a gallon of boxed (or canned) veggie stock.

As I said in my earlier post, keep the salt and sugar concentrations and everything else is optional. You don't need to use the candied ginger, allspice berries, etc.
Thanks again Andy. I hoped the need for stock would be minimal, but if I need it I have it in boxes. I buy it by the case.
Let me ask these straight forward questions to help clarify what i want to do, what to expect and what not to do.

1) Can I expect crispy skin with a brined turkey?
2) I cannot use any other dry seasonings with a brined turkey?
3) Can I just make a basic brine, then use what I like.
4) Can i get brining bags in the grocery? My cooler is to big.
5) Can I make a smaller, condensed brine on the stove, let cool and them mix with water? This would save valuable room in the kitchen and on the stove top.
6) Can I brine it tonight, and let it dry all night Weds in the fridge. This will help me greatly.

I will have more questions before tomorrow. I will add them to this list if the forum controls allow editing after extended periods.

Thanks Everyone!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:29 PM   #15
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I've never brined a turkey so I'm interested in seeing the answers to your questions. I think the limit on editing posts is about 20 minutes.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roll_Bones View Post
1) Can I expect crispy skin with a brined turkey?
2) I cannot use any other dry seasonings with a brined turkey?
3) Can I just make a basic brine, then use what I like.
4) Can i get brining bags in the grocery? My cooler is to big.
5) Can I make a smaller, condensed brine on the stove, let cool and them mix with water? This would save valuable room in the kitchen and on the stove top.
6) Can I brine it tonight, and let it dry all night Weds in the fridge. This will help me greatly.
I'm not Andy, but I've brined plenty of chickens and made a fresh turkey a couple years back that was brined, so I can answer most of these.

1) Yes. When you take the bird out of the brine, rinse it and pat it dry. It will crisp just fine. To get even more crispiness, rub the whole thing with oil or shortening. I've used lard, and it's far superior to olive oil or liquid shortening when it comes to crispy skin.
2) You can use dry seasonings with brine. After following the process above, add whatever seasonings you like. Except salt. You won't need to salt it if you brine the bird.
3) Yes.
4) I don't know the answer to this. I haven't seen large brining bags.
5) I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you talking about condensing the stock? As mentioned above, the salt:liquid ratio is what's important. I've always used water as a base for brine, and it works just fine.
6) I'm going to say no on this. If you brine your bird, you generally don't want to remove it from the brine until close to cooking time. Maybe a few hours. I could be wrong, but I think if you leave it dry in the fridge, you're going to start to lose moisture. As mentioned above, just pat it dry with paper towels after you remove it from the brine.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:21 PM   #17
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Steve's answers are OK #1-#4.

#5 Yes. Read the brine instructions in my link. You dissolve the solids and extract flavors from the spices using half the liquid, then you cool it with the remaining chilled liquid and ice.

#6 You should plan on removing the turkey from the brine, rinsing it and drying it off shortly before putting it in the oven. I do not recommend brining it, taking it out of the brine and storing it for a day.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:22 PM   #18
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You do not have to use stock, but if you do, it should have the concentration indicated in the recipe so it can provide flavor to the bird. Salt, sugar and water/ice is all you need. The rest is optional.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:25 PM   #19
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"5) Can I make a smaller, condensed brine on the stove, let cool and them mix with water? This would save valuable room in the kitchen and on the stove top."

I think this means he wants to make the brine two or three times as strong as the recipe and then dilute it to the correct ratio before putting the turkey in the brine. He won't need as large a pot on the stove if he does it this way.

I would think that would be okay, but I have no experience brining fowl.

Edit: Oops, I see Andy already answered this.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:19 PM   #20
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Okay friends. I found the bags. Ziploc "Big Bags" They come in L - XL - XXL. I have one plenty big (10 gallon, XL) and it is food safe.

Okay, I will wait until Weds night to brine. My special seasoning mix I make has salt in it. Could I use less salt in the brine and a little on the bird? Or just forget seasoning the bird before putting in the oven?

I plan to massage with butter before roasting it. I have salted butter, but it really does not have much salt taste to me?
I have all kinds of oil, but no lard. I can get some before Thursday though.

Note: My wife is wondering what i am up too! LOL. I am even roasting my aromatics and the necks and the gizzards I found today. Beautiful gizzards. Could not pass on them and they should add a lot of turkey flavor.

Okay, I will keep you guys posted and thanks so much..............John
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