Turkey Brine

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Turkey day (or ham or roast or perogies or cabbage rolls) – we’re pretty accommodating like that.

I went to the store on Friday and impulsively bought a turkey…quite a big turkey, although I didn’t realize quite how big until this morning. It was a frozen turkey. I have no room in my fridge – not even joking – no room at all. Quandry.

We have quite a cooler I used for brining a turkey a couple years ago when I wanted to smoke it. The brine I used soaked into the plastic of the cooler and, in a misguided effort to get rid of the odour, I used Febreeze (because that stuff can get rid of funky smells in/on anything). WRONG! The cooler smelled like briney Febreeze. So, I didn’t want to leave the turkey in that cooler to thaw and have the Febreeze scent become Febreeze flavour.

Cooler bag! Yes, indeed. Got plenty of those and ice packs. So we popped old Tom the turkey (still in his wrapper) into a cooler bag with some ice packs and left him to do his business.

Saturday night, the mancub says, we should put the turkey in the sink in cold water because he’s barely thawed at all.

We have two cats who, while not feral, certainly act like it and absolutely love raw food. I say to the mancub, what do we have to cover the sink (this is a large single sink, not a regular double sink) that Thing One and Thing Two cannot get their thieving, conniving paws around? Turns out – nothing.

Quandry.

Mancub takes the cooler to the bathtub, because he’s brilliant, and washes the bejeebers out of the cooler and then rinses like a maniac, while Thing One is trying his darnedest to get into the bathtub…..I swear that cat is part Bengal.

Mancub gets the cooler clean and the inside no longer smells like Febreeze! Woohoo! He starts filling it with cool water and I say, Stop! We should brine it but not with the same brine….just salt, water and sugar.

With this plan in mind, off we go…..and then, welllllll, things got added. It still wasn’t funky, though.

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey (turns out ours was 20 lbs)
  • 1 vessel large enough to hold the turkey and still fit somewhere cool or accommodate some ice packs
  • 3 oranges, cut into pieces (with peel)
  • ¾ cup lemon juice (or 3 lemons with peel, cut into pieces)
  • 2 – 3 TB rosemary
  • 1-2 TB black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 TB poultry seasoning
  • a whole lot of water – enough to cover the bird – I didn’t measure that part – probably 2-4 gallons (8-16 litres)

Cut up the fruit. Fill up the cooler (or bucket or whatever you’re using). Add the fruit and spices and mix well.

Not as yellow in real life as it appears in this picture. Great big Coleman cooler….forever the brining cooler now.

Add the bird and let it absorb the goodness as long as you can let it. Ours probably sat about 18 hours.

Take it out, drain it, give it a quick rinse if so inclined (I was) and roast it.

When I roasted it, we cut a bulb of garlic in half and stuffed it into the cavity and we cut another bulb and added it into the pan along with a few cups of water to keep it from sticking. I always roast the bird breast side down, so any fat can travel through the breast meat. Just before the bird is done, we flip him over to brown the skin (that we don’t eat).

We added pepper and poultry seasoning to the top of the bird and roasted at 350F for 15 minutes per pound.

The dark stuff was the poultry seasoning. The mancub used a spoon to sprinkle and it didn’t sprinkle very well.

I was pretty excited, though, as I bought a probe thermometer a little while ago and today was its first use. Worked amazing. Put the probe into the drumstick and set the temperature we were looking for. The thermometer shows the temperature the probe is at as well as the temperature it is going for. When it reaches temperature, it beeps. Was perfectly done & juicy.

I think it was $25.00 on Amazon and I actually bought it for when I smoke meat, but roasting is a good use of it, also.

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