Fair   N/AF  |  Forecast »
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

To Brine or Not to Brine...That is the Question

It seems that cooking Thanksgiving dinner has become complicated and fraught with decisions that could make or break the meal, with the biggest question centering on its star – the turkey.

Fans of brining firmly believe in the benefits and the resulting moist, plump and flavorful bird. Those against the method cite the time, effort and space it takes that a home kitchen usually cannot accommodate. 

In order to decide which side of the argument you fall on, you need to understand a bit more about brining.

Take Your Pick

There are two types of brine - water-based and dry-brine – and both help the turkey to retain moisture. The salt in the brine helps break down proteins and seasons the meat with more gusto than regular salting just before roasting.

Water-based brine will definitely result in a plump, juicy bird but because the solution is mostly water the meat can actually taste watered down. Dry brine adds intense flavor while also helping the turkey retain moisture, which is why fans of brining often choose dry over the traditional method.

A Dedicated Endeavor

Traditional brining requires a large basin that can be filled with the proper amount of water and salt plus the fully submerged turkey. You will also need space in your refrigerator for the basin because brining takes 12 to 18 hours. Once completed, you can remove the turkey, dry it well and follow a trusted roasting recipe.

Dry brine consists of kosher salt and baking powder mixed together. Once the turkey has been dried off, the mixture is evenly sprinkled over the bird before transferring to a rack to rest in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours … the longer the better. It is important to note that any additional salting steps in the roasting recipe should be omitted. 

The Question Remains

Many brining recipes also call for aromatics such as herbs, spices, onions, celery and carrots. Experts say they do a great job of making your brine smell good but don’t actually enhance the flavor of the meat.

And chefs who turn their noses up at brining altogether say the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal should be a high-quality, flavorful fresh turkey that is simply prepared and roasted with foil covering the breast to retain moisture.

However, as with most recipes, in the end - the choice is yours.