Let’s talk turkey…. brining.
At this point, it’s pretty famous: Wet brining your Thanksgiving turkey became notorious after Alton Brown popularized it in 1999. The idea is that this is a big bird that requires a lot of added flavor and can easily overcook. Here are the key differences between wet and dry brines.
Adding salty, spiced water as a marinade for a day or two essentially “injects” that moisture and salt into the bird itself. Sodium attaches to muscle proteins, weakens them, and salty water can permeate more. Ideally, a wet-brined bird is a very moist one. It can be pretty hands-on and you need some space. Our brining bags are heavy-duty, eliminating the need for a spare cooler. (Who has a cooler to spare at Thanksgiving, anyways?!) You can add the wet brine, submerge the turkey halfway, and flip the bird midway through the brining process. Because time is money, we carry the just-add-water autumn fruit and spice brine mix you’re going to want. Buy it with the brining bags as a kit!
One caveat: Some folks think wet brining results in drippings that are too salty to salvage for gravy. (You’re going to want to rinse and dry your bird before putting it in the oven whether you use a wet or dry brine.)
Check out this video for even more tips on wet brining:
For natural klutzes and those who just Don’t Want to Deal With All That Water, there’s dry brining. It can be as simple as a tablespoon of salt per five pounds of meat, rubbed all over and into the cavities, left on a turkey in the fridge for a few days. You can also amp up the flavor, which we’d argue turkey can withstand. We carry both a garlicky herbes de Provence dry brine spice blend and one shot through with brown sugar and hickory smoke.
If you’re paying close attention, a dry-brined turkey may not seem as “moist,” texture-wise, but its proponents argue that wet-brined birds have a texture that is just that: wet. Again, be sure to rinse and carefully dry the bird (being cautious to not spreading raw poultry germs around your kitchen) to ensure the ensuing gravy isn’t too salty, and that the bird gets golden-brown while roasting.
Whether you wet- or dry-brine your bird, hold off on instinctively salting that gravy until you’ve tasted your drippings, OK? (Perhaps it’s worth having our beloved gravy starter in your pantry, just in case.) And enjoy the extremely flavorful meat that results from either method.