Otter, how was your bird?

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Sep 1, 2004
Unlike our first brining experience a few weeks ago, this time I brined for 24 hours, then air-dried in the fridge for about 12 hours. But the most remarkable difference, which I would never have predicted, is that the mirepoix was MUCH less salty, despite the brine time being nearly four times longer!

The difference for me in turkeys was in having my grocer find me a fresh, NATURAL turkey without any brine injection, nor any other additives. The first turkey I brined had a 3% brine solution, and I only brined it for 6 hours. Other than allowing today's bird to air-dry overnight, the brines were equal, the cooking methods were equal...but this time I bloody well watched my thermometer and took the bird out right on time! And it was outstanding.

Resident scientists: could that 3% have made such a profound difference in the salinity of the drippings?

Otter: how did your turkey turn out? Any surprises or reaffirmations? Did you change your brine, or use just salt and water?
Audeo, I brined for 24 and air-dryed for 24 as a test. It was moist and tender, but about the same as when I did 12/12 previously, so I may go back to the 12/12 next time. I was on the verge of adding the more exotic ingredients, but we had my elderly parents over and they have pretty delicate palettes, so I stuck with just the salt because they liked that previously. I think I'm going to try adding a more complex brine on a chicken first. I added wild rice to the dressing and it was the best ever. Riced potatoes and pan gravy came out perfect, as did the other sides. Glad yours worked out well also.
PS: I melted a stick of butter on the stove, added Herbes de Provence and gave the bird a full body massage - nice smell as well as taste.
Riced potatoes, yum :D . I haven't made those ina long, long time, for obvious reasons.

I didn't brine my turkey this year. Instead, I boiled the necks, and gizzards, and added enough salt to make it a little too strong to eat. I reduced the liquid as well to make the stock very strong. I then injected the bird all over the place with the stock, and stuck it in the fridge, sealed in a plastic bag, for about 12 hours. When it was about an hour before cooking time, I removed the bird from the fridge, placed it into the roasting pan, on a turkey lifer rack, and rubbed it with softend butter. I then let it sit for an hour at room temp to allow the bird to warm slightly. I quartered an onion and snipped a foot long lenth of garlic-thyme from my plant, and stuck them both into the cavity.

After the hour at room temp, I sprinkled the skin with salt placed the bird into a 450 degree oven. Cokked it for twenty minutes, uncovered. I then placed foil, shiny-side out, over the breast meat, and returned it to the oven. The temperature was reduced to 350, and the meat thermometer inserted. I then left it alone for two hours, after which I added about two cups of water to the roasting pan. Back in and 1.5 hours later, I removed the foil. an additional 30 minutes brought the internal temp up to 160. I removed the bird and let it sit. My bird was done early, so I transported it, and the other dishes I had made throughout the day to my sister's house. We were supposed to eat at 4 pm. Her bird wasn't done, and the rutabegas weren't boiling yet. I feared for my turkey (gasp!).

I taught her the value of the meat thermometer as she didn't think her bird was don yet, as the outside color wasn't right. However, I talked her into removing the bird. We then carved my bird first, to allow hers to rest, then removed the stuffing from her bird, and carved it up as well.

She of course had to taste her bird, and was busy crowing to everyone how perfect it was, and how it was the best turkey she'd ever made. It was juicy and tender. But mine, with the addition of the injected stock, was just a bit uicier, and had more flavor. And the skin color was perfect. But I didn't tell her that.

Several people shook my hand after words and congradulated me on my results. I didn't let my sister know. We have a mild competition thing going with cooking. I try to make her believe she's beaten my results. Her ego is more fragile than is mine. And she is a pretty good cook, just needs to be nudged in the right direction occasionalt. And her dressing is superior to my own (but htat just might change this year thanks to all of you. I haven't made mine yet. I've reserved a turkey to smoke when my son visits. He's in Kuwait right now, and will be home before Christmas :mrgreen: .

We've got steaks set aside, a turkey, and we will have a grand time together. I haven't seen this young man in about three years now. I can harldy wait. I'm counting the days.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't believe there is one best way to cook anything. A great turkey can be had from brining, injecting, using a premium free-range bird, barbecuing, roasting, roasting on a rotiserie, etc. The most important part of the whole thing, is cooking to the proper temperature. I've tried a dozen different techniques. I've even gotten exceptional results by just placing an ordinary store-bought bird, with nothing special done to it, into the oven, and cooking it to the proper temp. The success comes from cooking to the proper temperature. All other techniques add subtle flavors, but don't really improve the meat quality, IMHO. I like my meat to sdquirt you when you bite it, and mine does.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
To both of you gentleman: Double Yum Yum! I love wild rice, otter and I don't doubt the goodness of their addition to your dressing/stuffing. And goodweed....what can I say! Your sister is going to toss and turn during her sleep for a few more nights!!! How funny and wonderful!

The one thing I can't figure out, however, is why my drippings were not SALTY! On the first bird, they were, exceptionally so! But this time, with a 4x brining time using the same brine, the mirepoix could have been scooped up, plated and eaten right out of the roasting pan...and wasn NOT salty?

I can't figure this out and it's going to drive me batty until I do!
Good one Audeo!

Why isn't the meat "salty" if you do it "right"?

I am closer to a "cook" rather than a "chemist", but I expect that the meat has a "potential" to absorb "so much" salt, and probably little, or "no more"...

Likewise, the various ingredients of "your" brine would need to be examined, and a "comparator" would be the meat/muscle mass of "your turkey", and whether you used the "same" turkey previously...(love you, Audeo, I know you are taking clinical notes on this, and getting a great big smile on that!)

Plainly, this "brining technique" is an "experiment" for most, if not indeed "all" of us, and the feedback is a bit ragged...the "mass" of the bird, the "mass" as opposed "volume" of the salt (did you use iodised "plain" salt, "Sea Salt" <also iodised, I see!> or "Kosher Salt"? Did you "measure the volume of water"? Did you "equalise it to the mass of the bird"? Did you use a sugaring agent, and if so, what? Maple syrup? What grade or what "absolute" sweetness"? Or "Brown sugar", and if so what kind of "Brown sugar"? Any sweetener ...well, okay "will" "mask" a salt...

Likewise a "herb" selection may (or may not!) accentuate the "saltiness" of the taste of the meat and/or drippings (which of course dona flavour transfer "thing" to your gravy, whereupon your mouth/tastebuds get totally screwed up on making "definitive" taste judgements...

Note my ancient posts on being "young, dumb, and full of [***] ", where a well endowed physically fit idiot like me in his 20's goes and does "marathoner" like performances (woo-Hoo! that was a while ago!) and can come home and literally ingest about a half cup of salt, which really did taste like sugar at that moment (I'd be puking it up today!)...note the marathon types at the Olympics and how they are gibbling up to the finish line with a severe lack of GatorAde...a saline substitute...

So if your body wants or needs it, you probably won't taste it...another variable...


How did the "turkey taste"?

A medical professional...(and chuckling, as I am obviously NOT!) as you are...Audeo, you might understand "good, or even "great" today..."salty" tomorrow, "underseasoned" on Saturday, just off the body need or appetite, which will vary with every "eater"...

Likewise, we have HARDLY "pinned down" a "recipe", let alone a "cooking method" of either "brining" or "flipping" the bird, asiode from we have "decided" to watch the digital probe to give a readout of the tempy of the breast, thigh and stuffing, and understand that this will rise as we let the bird sit, covered, for "some time" before we attempt to carve it (and of course understand the issues, if it is stuffed, or not, and when and how to take the "stuffing" out, and dealing with those issues...let alone "what was the stuffing made of" and the legal implications as noted before this on when it is "safe" to eat....

Am having "visions" of David Hyde-Pearce, (the actor who stared as "Niles" Crane in "Frasier") with "bats" and "moths", when you mention this will drive you "batty", and if I don't get this off my chest, well, I'll be "giggling" so hard that I won't get much sleep either...

Its probably far after you've headed in to sleep, but there's no reason I should get ripped off, just because you've a "bee in your bonnet"...

Anyways...a few thoughts on what makes it taste "different" when you "make it the same way", that may be germane...

Audeo, did you add any liquid to the bird while cooking? Was it a fattier bird than the last one? I also think that the difference might be that this one was not injected with a brine solution previously. I'm no chemist either, but think that a different bird made for the difference for you this time.
Thanks to all of you! I'm of the same conclusion that it was worth the $.99 per pound to get an unfrozen, "Natural", no additives added turkey that they claim was clucking around a week before.

I didn't add a drop of water or anything else, Alix. And as brining will be my friend henceford, so shall "natural" turkeys!!!

Alas, if only I could hunt down my own. Sweet memories of my childhood with Dad there...
OK - I will jump in here. I brined our turkey and it was fabulous. I simmered candied ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and brown sugar in the brine and then cooled it down before adding the turkey to its bath.

I brined for 10 hours, and then just patted the bird dry. I stuffed the inside with apple, onion, cinnamon stick, fresh rosemary and sage. I stuffed rosemary and chopped garlic under the bird's skin.

It cooked at 500F for 30 mins, and got very golden; I then reduced the temp to 350F, covered with foil, and cooked for 1 1/2 hours. I uncovered and cooked an additional 30 mins to make the skin golden and crisp. There was NO hint of saltiness to the bird at all. We were surprised when we removed the apple and onion from the bird before carving; the apple and onion were tender, but not salty or greasy - in fact, they were sliced and served along with the bird.

My parents had never had brined meat and are now staunch advocates for that type of cooking. They loved the flavor and tenderness, as well as the simplicity. I will definitely continue to brine turkeys in the future!
Brining is definitely the way to go. I think on the next bird I will brine with something more exotic than just salt, since everyone who has done more complex brines seems to like them. Also, I will never do the 325 degrees for 4 hours thing again - I think the low, slow heat may also have had a drying effect. At 400 degrees, the bird was done in an hour and fifty minutes, had a crisp skin and was incredibly juicy.
I am still too chicken to do more than salt, sugar and a very few herbs. I will say though that I found the difference between just salt and salt AND sugar to be dramatic. When you try it next time, will you let us know what you think Otter?
Alix said:
I am still too chicken to do more than salt, sugar and a very few herbs. I will say though that I found the difference between just salt and salt AND sugar to be dramatic. When you try it next time, will you let us know what you think Otter?
Will do. When you say "sugar" was it brown sugar?
I was a little worried that the bird would end up tasting very spiced; after all I used some very strong tasting herbs with the ginger, cinnamon, sage, and rosemary. I think though that they actually helped enhance the flavor of the bird, making the flavor of the turkey itself more pronouced. IMO herbs are highly recommended.
I have to add my 2 cents :roll:

I brined in apple juice (mostly) and added some water - then I added sald, brown sugar, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh bay leaves, smashed garlic, cut oranges, limes, lemons (I think that's all). When I cooked it I put a cut up Granny Smith apple and about 1/2 - 3/4 cup dry sherry in the cavity.

I started brining Tuesday, removed on Wednesday, sat in fridge overnight to dry - I decided to try cooking it upside down this time.

It was WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!! When I turned it over I WAS going to brown it on top but it was fine and the legs just fell away - it was the most tender bird I have done yet.

BUT I also used a Butterball which had a small amount of brine in it too. When I went to make the gravy I had to add a LOT of milk to counteract the saltiness - but the gravy was the best gravy too - so it all worked out!
Otter said:
Alix said:
I am still too chicken to do more than salt, sugar and a very few herbs. I will say though that I found the difference between just salt and salt AND sugar to be dramatic. When you try it next time, will you let us know what you think Otter?
Will do. When you say "sugar" was it brown sugar?

Yes Otter, brown sugar. Equal portions of sugar and salt.

Don't be afraid to use a lot of herbs - (I forgot to mention that I also used a lot of fresh sage) - none of these flavors overpower the bird - even as much apple juice as I used only produced a great flavor - not a strong apple flavor (made the bird a funky color though before it was cooked :oops: - my DH said - that bird looks old).

All these flavors produced just that - a great flavor - with nothing standing out.
Sorry I can't resist, but "beer-butting" birds with cranberry juice variants "pinks them up" in the meat and I expect that using this in lieu of water for brining would do the same...

Its sort of "neat" to note the kudos for the sugar in the brine (and I dunno where I heard of it, its sure wasn't my invention!)...the fruit juice would certainly add to this...

I have studied a lot of the posts on the Board and a lot of my own "notes" on cooking, and have not seen even one that said the bird tasted "sweet", let alone "too sweet"...that would "argue" on not using some form of "sweetener" in the brine...

A late night "wild hare" would be who amongst us will be bold enough to pour a half bottle of rum into the brine as the sweetening agent?

Since the boiling of the brining mixture is brief, and I, at least, if not most of "us" "shock" it back with ice cubes, the dispersion of "herbal oils" from sage, rosemary, thyme, etc is probably pretty minimal, I doubt that it will be possible to "over-herb" a bird...there's not been one complaint in this line on this board, let alone others...I think the technique of brining that we are sort of "timidly" entering would have to be wildly different to state that the meat tasted "too much of sage" (or anything else!)

Just a few thoughts, that you guys might want to toss around...


(Revelating that there's a chicken in the freezer that I could "torture test"!) Anyone got any "big fears" or concepts? I'll sacrifice this bird to anyone's "fear factor" and record, carefully, the quantities and qualities, as best I can, if you want!

A Strong Teriyaki marinade might give a nice twist to the flavor. But be aware that it will only affect the outermost laryer of meat, and so will be relatively mild, unless injected into the meat, and even then, shouldn't be overpowering.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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