The great debate – to brine or not to brine


I’m still mulling over the possibility of brining my turkey for Thanksgiving.

It seems like a lot of trouble, but I’m wondering if any of you have thoughts on the great debate.

It has become the sheik thing to do according to many chefs, but I wonder if anyone can actually taste the difference.  I watched a chef on the Food Network brine her turkey with a mixture of salt (lots of it – like several cups), maple syrup, honey and soy sauce.  That sounded interesting.

Mainstream food punditry maintains that brining the turkey practically guarantees a moist, tender roast. But I’m still a no-briner.

For one thing, you can’t use a brined turkey to prepare one of the highlights of the Thanksgiving meal: gravy. Roast a plain turkey and you end up with a pan full of browned turkey juices, which you can defat and deglaze and aromatize into a delicious pan sauce. But juice up the turkey with water and salt, and its drippings become too salty to use.

I’m told the best way to keep an unbrined turkey breast moist is to cook it separately, gently and precisely. It’s just done at around 145 degrees, and getting dry at 155.

The crock pot method – cooking a turkey breast from the frozen state, topped with melted butter and loads of lemon pepper is the simplest method.  (Cook one high for two hours and on low for another 6-8.

This recipe was given to me by Kate Roberts of Columbus.  She calls it her “sick dish” because she always takes one to her sick friends.  Her housekeeper calls it the Crotch Pot Turkey Breast which sends us into a giggling frenzy. Just try to find a frozen breast without the giblets stuffed inside.

3 thoughts on “The great debate – to brine or not to brine

  1. I brined my turkey once, , and it came out moist and tender. I would have to look up instructions again, but I remember a lot of rinsing after bining.All the other ingredients besides salt contribute little. It is the salt that does the work. Once was enough. There is too much else going on at a holiday to go to the trouble of brining.It may have been a little better, but I like it without brining, too.

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