Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to Brine a Bird

At the time that this post was put together we had just brined some turkey birds for our uh-maze-ing Thanksgiving dinner. The good thing about this simple brine recipe is that you can use it on any type of poultry that you intend to roast, smoke, or deep fry. We put one of our birds in the oven for a more traditional Turkey-day Turkey, and put the other out on the smoker for a little bit of a different flavor.  We have also brined chicken and roasted it in the oven, or made beer can chicken with it, and we have deep fried a turkey brined with this recipe as well. The recipe for this brine comes from Alton Brown's recipe for deep fried turkey, and if you've never deep fried a bird, I suggest you do so. (Cautiously, so as not to burn yourself, your loved ones, or your dwelling.)

Start your brining process by selecting a clean cooler of an appropriate size, and line it with a plastic trash bag. The bag will keep whatever still may be lurking in the cooler from reaching your poultry, as well as keep your poultry juices from contaminating the cooler.

Following Alton's recipe, measure out your salt. Be sure you weigh out your dry goods, but especially your salt. If you don't have kosher salt, which the recipe calls for, you can use another type of salt (pickling salt, for instance) as long as it weighs the same. If you measure these two types of salt out with a measuring cup, you will end up with completely different amounts because the crystal sizes are different.
 After the salt is weighed and added to the bag, add your brown sugar. Since our brown sugar was already weighed out, we didn't need to put it on the scale.
 Next, add the hot water to the bag. The water should be hot so that it will more easily dissolve the salt and sugar crystals. Cold water makes it more difficult to dissolve.
 Allow your mixture to cool down for a while, at least until it reaches room temperature, then add the ice.
 All that's left now is to add your birds. Here's the early bird. (See what I did there?)
 Now our two birds are all nestled in like two peas in a pod. They will soak overnight in their briny bed, and tomorrow they will do delicious things.
If you, like us, do not care for the extra bits you find in the cavity of your bird, simply put them in a pot, boil them up, and feed them to your backyard birds. Our chickens and ducks munched on these with gusto, then helped us dispose of the carcasses after we carved them up. It was a good Thanksgiving for them as well!