Why Brine? Because Science tells us it's the way to go!

When we talk about Brine, we are most often referring to Turkey. Turkey is a fickle poultry to cook, often dry when served. Yet, most of us go to Turkey town during Christmas festivities. Our friends in the US crazy about this meal at Thanksgiving and probably have the "heads up" on Turkey preparation. 

Brining is the process prior to cooking. Brining is a great way to keep your Turkey perishable before the big day, as it also acts as a preserving agent. It is a great way to ensuring your meat has a better chance of being served succulent. 

Turkey is a relatively lean bird, and the breast-to-leg ratio isn't ideal (i.e., by the time the dark meat is cooked through, the breast meat may have overcooked). 

Brine & Pickling liquids are one in the same. Artisan Butchers such as our team, still use the traditional techniques of brining for our many of our produce. Adding "sugar & spice" to our Brines to make it our own. 

My favourite meats to work with brining are;

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Some Pork cuts

Fatter birds such as goose and duck are best glazed not brined. 

Brining involves bathing ingredients in salted liquid. On a microscopic scale, muscle fibers in the meat absorb water through some combination of capillary action and diffusion. As meat cooks, the proteins denature and contract, squeezing water out of the muscle.

No matter how waterlogged the turkey is when it goes into the oven, it’ll emerge dry as can be—unless it’s been properly salted. Why? Because salt dissolves proteins in the meat to form a gel. The salt ions cause the fibrils within the muscles to repel one another, expanding into an open lattice. This new structure holds water much better, and doesn’t contract in the same way when it is heated.
 
The result is moist, tender, flavorful meat.
 

Common Brines, it's EASY don't stop reading

  • DRY BRINE ~ Instead of immersing turkey in a bath of salted water, the dry-brine disciple smothers their bird in salt alone.
  • BUTTERMILK BRINE ~ Immerse the turkey in a bath of fresh buttermilk
  • SALT BRINE ~ Add aromatics to give your salt brine flavour and added flavour dimension when brining your Turkey overnight. 

 

How To Dry-Brine

  1. Two days before Turkey Day, pat the bird dry. (If it’s frozen, give it an extra couple days to thaw in the fridge first.) Remove the giblets, neck, and any other oddments from the cavity, and set up a clean work station to salt your bird.

  2. Salt the bird on all sides and inside the cavity. Remember, you’re salting the entire bird, not just the surface, so season liberally. To allow air to circulate around the bird, which will lead to crisper skin, place the turkey on a wire rack set in a sheet tray, and place uncovered in the refrigerator. Cover loosely with plastic wrap if salting more than two days in advance.

  3. 1 to 2 hours before you plan to roast the turkey, take it out of the fridge to bring it up to room temperature.

  4. COOK YOUR TURKEY

How To Buttermilk Brine

  1. Prepare the Brine. 
  2. RECIPE FOR 4KG TURKEY 2 litres Buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of salt & 2 teaspoons of white pepper.
  3. You can add extra aromatics to the mix such as fresh thyme, mustard and fennel seeds and even garlic. 
  4. Two days before Turkey Day, pat the bird dry. (If it’s frozen, give it an extra couple days to thaw in the fridge first.) Remove the giblets, neck, and any other oddments from the cavity, and set up a clean work station to prepare your bird.
  5. Combine buttermilk, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag, large deep dish, preserving pan or clean bucket. Add chicken | Turkey and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain before using.
  6. COOK YOUR TURKEY

How to Salt Brine

  1. Prepare the Brine at least one day prior to adding Turkey, you will require a tub, stock pot or large container. I use one large stock pot for whole process, just make sure it fits in the fridge. 
  2. RECIPE FOR 4KG TURKEY In a stock pot (28 cups) water, 1 1/2 cups coarse salt, 6 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries, 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, 2 medium onions sliced. Simmer for 10 minutes and allow too cool. 
  3. You can add extra aromatics to the mix such as fresh thyme, mustard and fennel seeds and even garlic. 
  4. One day before Turkey Day, pat the bird dry. (If it’s frozen, give it an extra couple days to thaw in the fridge first.) Remove the giblets, neck, and any other oddments from the cavity, and set up a clean work station to prepare your bird.
  5. Submerge the bird for 24 hours, make sure it is submerged or flip half way through. 
  6. Remove turkey from brine one hour before you're ready to roast it, and pat it dry inside and out.
  7. COOK YOUR TURKEY

Brine Bags

Let me very clear. I have not used a Brine Bag. I have a big Coolroom on the farm so don't face the challenges of keeping large Turkeys refrigerated.

I often recommend to customers that are space challenged, use an iced up esky, that way the fridge remains in action when the Turkey or Whole Ham arrives. 

However, Brine Bags are a great solution for Chicken and Turkey. Whilst I prefer a stock pot, this method does have its advantages. 

Using a large stockpot covered with plastic wrap is a common method for brining a turkey, but using a bag offers at least one improvement: "Brining in a bag enables you to ensure the turkey is fully submerged and that the brine reaches every part of the turkey," says chef Waldy Malouf, senior director of food and beverage operations at The Culinary Institute of America. A bag also makes it easier to keep your turkey fully covered in brine during its soaking time, he says: "Halfway through the brining process, roll the turkey over in the bag to mix up the liquid a bit and make sure it's fully submerged."

Where to buy a Brine Bag? That my friends is something you'll have to tell me!

My Christmas Hamper Produce selection is available in store & online for Home Delivery VIC Wide whilst stocks last. 

CREDIT: JOHN KERNICK