To Brine…Or Not to Brine a Thanksgiving Turkey?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is time to start thinking about turkeys. The centerpiece of any Thanksgiving feast is the turkey. Some folks relish the thought of preparing thanksgiving turkey using age old recipes that have been handed down through their family.

Others dread the thought of roasting turkey. The very idea of manhandling a 10 to 20 pound bird Thanksgiving morning, and cooking it up for family guests sends shivers down their spine. The main reason people dread making a turkey is because of failure. Failure is a poorly cooked bird, one that is dry, overcooked, and maybe even burned. One way to get around a failed Thanksgiving dinner is to use a brine based recipe your turkey roast.

A few years ago, deep fried turkeys were all the rage. Deep frying a bird calls for a bird that is virtually dry on the outside, with the brine and marinade injected under the skin and into the turkey breast and legs. Making a comeback for the for this year’s Thanksgiving tradition is the old school method using a brine based recipe for cooking turkey. Brine based recipes call for roasting a turkey in the oven as opposed to deep frying. You should never deep fry a turkey in combination with a brine recipe.

When it is OK to brine a Thanksgiving turkey?
Some turkeys should not be placed in brine at all. Most frozen turkeys sold in supermarkets are already pre-injected with sodium based (salt) solutions. There is no need to brine these turkeys since the injection replaces the need for placing a turkey in brine before you roast.

If you are interested in trying out a turkey brine recipe this year, check the label and make sure that there is no indication that the bird you are buying has not already been injected with a water based salt solution. Most labels will say that may contain a “2% water based solution” of either sodium phosphates and/or salt. This type of turkey will not need to be placed in a brine before cooking. Be sure to check the label closely, as some turkey brands use rather obscure labeling practices on their products.

To find a turkey that is suitable for a brine based recipe, look towards supermarket section that contains unfrozen or natural turkeys. These turkeys cost a few dollars more. You will also need to spend a little longer time to properly prepare your bird the evening before. The end result will make your Thanksgiving feast well worth the effort!

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