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Friday, November 20, 2015
To Brine or not to Brine...Questions?
According to Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, "Brining the turkey is an unnecessary step that just adds more stress to an already stressful day," That being said, more and more people are taking that step. I started brining a turkey over 10 years ago when we added a deep fried version to our Thanksgiving table. My thought process was that you obviously can't baste a deep frying bird, and it only takes 3 minutes a pound to cook, so the flavor needed to be added BEFORE the cooking process. Ignore that we also inject a creole butter mixture into the breast before submerging into the oil.
Currently, there are a number of brining kits on the market, But when I started, the basic brine was (2) quarts of vegetable broth, a pound of honey, a pound of Kosher Salt, 2 gallons of warm water and a bag of ice. We would dump it all into a heavy trash bag (construction type) and then into the cooler, and leave on the back deck overnight. A garage or basement would work too. Just don't leave it in a heated house. Important note: Make sure the bird is complete covered by the brine.)
Here is a brief explanation to science of brining. Moisture loss is inevitable when you cook any type of muscle fiber. Heat causes fibers to unwind and then join together with one another, resulting in some shrinkage and moisture loss.
Normally, meat loses about 30 percent of its weight during cooking. But if you soak the meat in a brine first, you can reduce this moisture loss during cooking to as little as 15 percent, Brining enhances the juiciness, that is a fact. But most of the process is result of the salt which breaks down muscle fiber while adding flavor to the meat.
Self basting birds, such as Butterball turkeys, probably don't need to be brined. However, on the Butterball website, even they offer a brining recipe. The turkey I roast is always of the self-basting variety so I don't bother brining it. Maybe I should but, the turkey is never dry, and quite frankly, I can't even think of brining two turkeys. Brining is a choice. Is it always necessary? Probably not. But, since it is kind of a way of salting the meat, while it is still under the skin, it certainly does add flavor!