Turkey Questions

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drdrew

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ahhh...the quest for the best turkey ever....

okay, here goes.

i'm going to brine my turkey, i bought cans of chicken broth, garlic added and kosher salt to make my brine. i have now seen recipes with brown sugar as well....should i add brown sugar? or will it clash with the chicken broth and garlic? should i just skip the broth and do water/salt and sugar?

next, supposing i get this brining thing worked out, we get to the cooking. my wife likes to use the oven bags, but this year i thought about trying this thing i heard where you smear mayonnaise all over the bird and you get a nice seared crispy juicy turkey...so, if i do the mayo, should i nix the oven bags?

next, supposing i get this brining and mayonnaise thing all worked out, should i cook breast up or down? use a rack or not?

finally...we got a convection oven this year....should i convect?

whew! that's all....
 

mudbug

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Bienvenu, drdrrew. You sure made your debut with a splash! I hope some others come to my rescue, but here's my 5 cents:

First off, can't help with convection oven questions. Don't have one.

I can't see how brown sugar is gonna hurt your other brining ingredients. It's only to brine in anyway.

Mayo to make skin crispy? I would think it will result in just the opposite. May depend on the temp at which you roast your bird. Intriguing idea that I never heard of before.

Yes, breast side down, at least for about half the cooking time, then flip it carefully (see Otter's or Lifter's posts about this).

I would rack the bird to keep its butt from getting too mushy.

Finally, there is a mother lode of info on brining, flipping, lube jobs, etc. on this very thread, so keep reading!
 

jennyema

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1. Sugar in brine. YES! Sugar (or eqiv, like juice or molasses, etc.) is always a good addition to brine. Sugar compliements salt by bringing out the savory taste. It does not make the meat sweet. Most brine "recipes" call for both salt and sugar. There are a bunch of other posts on this but I can't remember anyone ever saying that sugar in brine was not better than salt alone. IMO, Broth is better than water but not a whole lot, so that call is up to you.

2. Mayo? Never heard of it, sorry. You will not want or need to use a bag if you brine, and if you brine, then AIR DRY the bird, the skin usually gets very crispy on its own. You dont want seared skin, you want it to be brown and crisp. A dry turkey with proper roasting usually gets there on its own.

3. I usually use Alton Brown's method for brining and cooking. When I don't, I usually start the bird upside down, but if you brine, the breast will be juicy without this technique. I usually also turn the pan onece during cooking because the back of your oven is hotter than the front.

4. Convection. I dont have one, but if I did I would definitely use it. make sure to make adjustments in cooking time accordingly, though.
 

drdrew

Assistant Cook
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Nov 23, 2004
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USA
air dry?
i need an explanation please...thanks for the fast replies!

so sugar is okay even if i'm using the chicken broth with garlic as a brining solution? (i will add salt too.)
 

jennyema

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Air dry.

Brine first (use sugar :D ). You will need to brine for some hours, depending on how large your turkey is. make sure the turkey is kept at 40 or below. blue ice packs in ziplocks can be added needed -- they dont dilute the brine.

Remove the turkey from brine. SOme people rinse, but I guess that depends on what's in your brine... but dry the bird thoroughly with paper towels and then put on a rack and let air dry for at least an hour, and preferably several. I have seen some rec's for air-drying overnight, but that is IMO overkill and undoes some of the good work of the brine. Also, bringing the turkey closer to room temp helps it cook faster and more evenly. Just make sure that you do not leave the bird at a temp of over 40 for more than an hour or so.
 

Raine

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If you buy a frozen turkey, most already come with a solution(brine)
 

amber

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I have a turkey question too. I've heard its best to rub salt all over the turkey 24 hrs before cooking time. Is that a good idea? If so, do you then rinse the turkey to remove the salt? Does it make the turkey taste salty? Would you use table or kosher salt?
 

mudbug

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Amber, salting a turkey without any liquid would tend to draw moisture OUT of your bird, which you don't want. Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Rainee?
 

Raine

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Never heard of rubbing salt on it. What does that do for the bird?
 

GB

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I would not think rubbing it with salt would be a good idea, but then again I have never tried it. Just doesn't sound like it would be beneficial and could actually make for a drier turkey.

Follow Jennyema's instructions and you will have the best turkey you have ever tasted.

I usually do not use sugar in my brine, but I have tried it and it does not make the meat sweet. The reason I usually don't use it is that I can be pretty lazy at times and salt and water is abut as simple as you can get ;)
 

Raine

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Make sure the sodium content is low in the broth, or it may be too salty. Or you may want to back out some of the kosher salt.
 

jennyema

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I think I would tend to agree that coating the bird with salt will draw moisture out of the cells. I'd like to hear more on the science of this. It seems like the opposite of brining.

Whereas, I know that brining works great.

Maybe I'll try a chicken coated in salt sometime though.
 

amber

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Thanks for your replies everyone. I believe I saw the tip about salt on one of the foodnetwork programs. It is suppose to make the turkey moist. I guess I wont do it seeing as so many of you seem to think it will take moisture out of the turkey. Guess I'll just stick with the way I usually make it. I've never turned my turkey breast side down, but that sounds like a good idea, since it would make the moisture flow into the breast. One more question. Do you all prefer a metal roasting pan or the throw-a-way aluminum types with the handles? I bought the aluminum one, but am a bit weary that it may affect the flavor somehow. I've mostly used my metal roaster. I only bought the aluminum so I can toss it away. Any preferences?
 

drdrew

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Nov 23, 2004
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great replies and thanks, i will definitely air dry.

is it necessary to "cook" the sugar into solution, or is it okay to mix it cold as long as it dissolves?
 

GB

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amber said:
Do you all prefer a metal roasting pan or the throw-a-way aluminum types with the handles?

I do not like the throw-a-way aluminum types. They can be flimsy and the last thing you would want is to spend all that time and effort cooking that bird only to have it fall on the floor as you pull it out of the oven because the pan collapsed.

I am wondering if the salt thing you saw was a salt encrusted bird. I have seen it with chicken and fish, but never turkey, although in theory it should work for that as well. I don't remember exactly how to do it, but you take a lot (a real lot) of salt and mix with 1 egg (I think) and completely cover the bird. All you see is a mound of white salt. Then roast it and when it is done you crack open the salt and the bird inside is done, juicy, and not salty. Could this have been what you saw?
 

Psiguyy

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The basic brining solution is always, in my book anyway, 1 gallon water plus 1 cup of salt plus 1 cup of sugar. I will also add herbs to the solution. The turkey I did last week, I used turbinado sugar because that's what I had the most of and hardly ever use it. The bird was one of those that was injected with brine. I still brined it because they don't inject all that much into the bird. I brined it for 24 hours. Stuffed the bird with celery, onion, and carrots to give it extra flavor.

Mayo is mostly oil, so it's like rubbing the turkey with a thick oil.

I roast my bird in a bag. I don't care about the appearance or the skin. I'm more interested in how it tastes and doing it in the bag, in my opinion, gives a superior roasted meat that doesn't shrink and is about as moist as it can get. Besides, roasting in the bag cuts out a significant amount of roasting time.
 

Raine

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Apple Cider-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy


Brine:
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
2 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice

Remaining ingredients:
4 garlic cloves
4 sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Savory Herb Gravy

To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.
Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place in non-metalic container. Add cider mixture and ice. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours,
Preheat oven to 500º.

Remove turkey from brine and discard brine, and orange quarters. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Savory Herb Gravy. Discard skin before serving; serve with gravy.

Note: Nutritional analysis includes Savory Herb Gravy.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 6 ounces turkey and 3 tablespoons gravy)

CALORIES 338 (30% from fat); FAT 11.3g (satfat 4.2g, monofat 2.5g, polyfat 3g); PROTEIN 51.3g; CARBOHYDRATE 4.5g; FIBER 0.1g; CHOLESTEROL 138mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 770mg; CALCIUM 45mg;
 
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