Turkey and Brine
Posted: 22 Nov 2009 07:15 AM PST on FoodTalk with Barbara Kafka
For several years, I have been getting queries about brining turkey before roasting. Theoretically, it seasons the bird and keeps it moist. All rather amusing if you consider the amount of gourmet print that has been expended excoriating market-sold turkeys that have brine injected into them.
Moreover, as a Jew, if not an observant one, It seems to me ironic for people to go to all that work when they can buy a turkey that has already been brined to kosher it. It's even odder when you realize that the koshering is done to remove any blood. Now, as a cook, I point out that the blood gives the meat flavor and moistness. The fat under the skin--except in the case of wild turkey--bastes the bird as it melts due to my method of high-heat roasting. Basting only adds fat and ups the risk of burns on the human arms.
Still contrary, I say nay to stuffing in the bird. The bones are so thick that there is a minimal transfer of flavor. It is also a good way to breed salmonella. Each year, I make turkey stock with the innards, wing tips, and carcass. I use that to flavor the "stuffing." If seems obligatory to put something inside the bird, use your choice of onion, apple, orange, garlic, fresh sage and celery leaves.
Even less traditional, I do not truss the bird. It seems perfectly ridiculous to push the darkest and heaviest pieces of meat together insuring uneven cooking and dried out white meat.
What is left? Simplicity. Let the bird come to room temperature. Heat the oven to 500 F. Put the bird in a roasting pan--not a foil one that can cause spilling and is not reusable. Also do not use that family favorite, the blue and white spotted pan. The enamel chips easily and creates a fine breeding place for salmonella.
Just put the rack in the middle of the oven. Put the turkey on it--legs to the rear. Squiggle it around after fifteen minutes so it doesn't stick. Follow the timings in my book Roasting, A Simple Art. The bird will be perfect.
PAGES: 1 2
This article available online at: