Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brining Chicken or Turkey

I brine my whole turkey for Thanksgiving with this same process as I'm brining my chicken for Sunday dinner.  Only for a turkey - I use a cooler because it's so big (I keep it in the cooler for 3 days).  Here I'm just using a big bowl and I've added about *1 gallon of water.  It's important to keep track of how much water you use because you'll add *1 cup kosher salt per gallon water for the brine.
*Then it's 1/2 cup brown sugar to every cup of salt
*3-6 bay leaves depending on the size of the bird
*Small handful of peppercorns 
     (I use white peppercorns)
     Buy the bay leaves and peppercorns in bulk
     and it's quite cheap!
*1-2 tbsp liquid smoke 
     (this is a great item for your food storage - 
     a little goes a long way for flavor!)
I freeze my whole chickens until I'm ready to use them, so it does need about 6 hours to defrost using the brining method - I keep my chicken in the brine solution for about 24 hours.  After the chicken is defrosted, I put it in my refrigerator until ready to bake.  I brine AND cook my whole birds upside down so the flavor and moistness stays in the bulk of the meat.

Before baking it, rinse the bird (gets rid of the excess salt) and stuff the bird if desired (I add onion, whole garlic and fresh thyme).  Add butter to the skin and seasoning.  We roast it on convection baking for 4 hours (because that's how long we're gone for church) in the oven at 325 upside down and then 425 for 1/2 hour right side up (while we finish preparing the side dishes) to crisp it up. Brine a turkey 3 days prior to cooking it.
Brining any meat makes it tastier, moist and more tender.  Brine vs marinade - personally I'd go with brining!
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