"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jenny and the Giant Turkey - Chapter Two- Brining and Smoking

The picture you see here is my roasting pan filled to the gills with two turkey leg quarters and breasts - see Jenny and the 20 Pound Turkey: Chapter One chilling out in a brine. Why should you brine? It is an insurance policy for poultry and lean pork.  These lean meats are very susceptible to drying out through long trips in the smoker or oven.  No fear, brining is a simple process.  Meat is placed in a salty solution to soak for several hours.  The salt in the brine penetrates the meat and allows it to stay moist and juicy, especially the white meat of the turkey.  Matt is a dark meat guy...but even he will eat white meat that has been properly brined.  That dried out, chalk in the mouth, bland white meat is a thing of the past with a brine.

You can also impart a fair amount of flavor with a brine.  Anything you want really.....I will give you my basic formula and the flavors that I used on this particular poultry.

Basic Brine:
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. table salt
1 qt. water

In a large stock pot, dissolve over medium heat the brown sugar and salt in the quart of water.  Add a gallon of water.  Stir and cool to room temperature.  If you really need to cool it down fast, like I did, you can use ice cubes.

That's it.....that's a brine.  If you don't use all of it, you can freeze it in smaller containers and use it for other projects later.

I added 3 bay leaves, 3 cloves of crushed garlic and  a couple of tablespoons of whole peppercorns.  Add these while the salt and sugar dissolve on the stove.  You could also use onion and sage leaves.  Or for a different flavor profile, you could use whole cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Maybe garlic, onion and some dried chilis.  Your options are really limitless....

As I mentioned earlier, we cut our turkey up, but you don't have to.  Brining a whole turkey is very possible.  If your turkey is small enough, you can use a stock pot for a brining vessel.  Just make sure you can fit whatever vessel you choose in the fridge.  Fully submerge the turkey in the brine and park it in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.  After the brining time is up,  it is important to dry the skin, if not, the skin will be tough and chewy.  We're looking for crispy, yummy skin.  Take the turkey and place it on a on a cooling rack with a sheet pan underneath it.  This allows air to get to the bottom of the turkey.
A very useful set up....I use it a lot

Pat the skin dry with paper towels and place in the fridge at least overnight uncovered, 18 hrs. would be better.  Adding a spice rub at this point would be golden, just choose one with low salt since the brine is so salty. (We mixed one up ad hoc, and it didn't use any salt.)  Your turkey is now ready to either roast, or in our case, smoke!

Matt smoked our turkey for 2 hours on his Weber Smokey Mountain.  He used lump charcoal, one chunk of pecan wood and two chunks of cherry wood.  We had Matt's parents over for dinner that night and my father-in-law said it was the best smoked turkey he'd ever had.  This was Meal # 1 from our turkey.  When it was just my family, we ate a fourth of the meat that was smoked.  I must apologize for no pics of the smoked turkey.......We were hungry and I just forgot  :(

No comments:

Post a Comment