Brining Up a Storm!

I have recently rediscovered my love for all things brined. Seriously, it is the ONLY thing that I’ve found that majorly improves moistness, flavor, and tenderness of poultry like turkey and chicken. I’ve tried just about every method under the sun for keeping a turkey moist, but NOTHING compares to a good brine and a slow roast.

The amazing thing about a brine is that you can make the brine just about any way you want to and as long as your salt and water proportions are correct, it will turn out perfectly every time.
Recently, I’ve found my own little recipe that I love to use with turkey especially.

The basic recipe for any brine starts with 4 Tablespoons of salt to one Tablespoon of sugar, dissolved in one quart of liquid, adjust the recipe to provide enough brine to cover your meat completely in whatever container you choose to brine in. From there the possibilities are endless. You can use water, soda pop, juice, vegetable broth (low sodium or homemade), or any combination of these as your liquid, and you can use just about any kind of sugar except for confectioner’s sugar as your sweetness, including honey! Your salt can be just about any kind, including pickling spices if that’s your thing.

Then you can add whatever aromatics your little heart desires. I’ve found that the old Scarborough Fair song provides a great recipe for brining (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme), and for my brine I usually use a mixture of half water and half apple juice for an added sweetness and tang. You can add pepper or any other spice that sounds pleasing to you, and I’ve found proportions don’t seem to matter in this area as much as if you were actually putting the spices directly on the meat.

How long you brine your meat will depend on how large the piece of meat that you are brining is. We like a heavy brine, so I usually throw everything from a large turkey breast to a whole chicken to a whole turkey in for overnight, but most people would only do the smaller cuts of meat for 2-4 hours. It’s entirely up to you. If you are brining for just a short period of time, then you may want to bring your brine to a boil then cool it back down to room temperature before putting your meat into it b/c you’ll get more intense flavor that way in a shorter period of time. Me? I like to fix it and forget it till morning.

The only real downfall with brining is that you can only use it once, then you must throw the brine away b/c after all, raw poultry did touch it, and you don’t want that kind of bacteria hanging out in your kitchen for long! Do remember also to keep a closer eye on your meat when cooking a brined piece of poultry or pork, b/c I’ve found that a brined turkey will cook in half the time it would’ve normally taken! Definately an advantage, but until you get the hang of cooking brined meat, you might want to watch that you don’t burn it.

Now that I’ve said my piece about brining, tell me that this turkey breast that I brined then baked at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half doesn’t look like something out of a magazine…and trust me, it tasted more amazing than it looked!

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