Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Brining a chicken or 3... and how to scale up to brine a turkey recipe!

I've always been intrigued by the idea of brining.  Its science meets delicious.  Think brine = simple marinade that penetrates the meat and keeps it moist to boot... And its really really easy.    All you need is to put together a brine, a large enough container to hold the bird and brine, and at least 4 hours of patience while the brine does its magic!

Brines come in weak and strong.  I make a fairly weak brine, so you can let the chicken brine minimum 4 hours and max about 2 days. You can make the brine more concentrated, but if you leave the chicken in too long of a concentrated brine, you have to rinse the chicken so its not unbearably salty... and the meat can become... smushy/slimey and not in a good way... that's why I use a weak brine.. foolproof! 

I've brined a few chickens before I scaled up to a turkey.  And one of the most important things: make sure you have a container or a turkey bag that can hold the bird and about 10-15cups of brine that can fit into your fridge.  Brine acts as a marinade and the raw chicken/turkey must sit pretty in the fridge while it brines.  Oh, and have a decent roasting pan ideally with handles so your super hot turkey doesn't go flying when you attempt to get it out of the pan.  I've gone through pans over the years from the flimsy cheap aluminium roasting pans you can get at the dollar store, pyrex roasting dishes, and I'm on my favourite for the past few years: my Kitchen Aid, Extra Large, 17 Inch, Non-Stick Roaster, High Quality Steel, with Chrome-plated Floating Rack, Easy-Lift Handles.  Love it as it fits turkeys over 25lbs.. and still fits into my oven! :D
And finally, don't "guessimate" how long it'll take for the bird to be done.  Its worth investing a few bucks for a good meat thermometer so you yank your bird out of the oven before it gets all dry and not waste your efforts in the kitchen!  I'm paranoid so I use two - an ordinary one (that is dishwasher safe - yes!) oven safe thermometer as well as an electronic digital one that yells at me when the bird is done ... so yes, you can laugh at how my turkey has not one but 2 meat thermometers poked deep into the thighs, but I like to make sure in case I accidentally stuck one thermometer too close to the bone or outright pierce right through the bird and it'll never tell my my bird is done until its jerky.

Recipe
1) In a medium sized pot, bring to a boil:
For a chicken
-4cups of water
-1/2 cup table salt (if using kosher salt you need to double it)
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 lime cut into quarters, squish and toss it all in (I like it better than lemon as it more aromatic)
-1 generous handful of fresh rosemary sprigs tied into a bundle (1/2 inch tight bundle to make your life easier)
-1 small bundle of fresh thyme (1/4 inch tight bundle)
-1 small bundle of fresh basil tied into bundle or 2 teaspoons dried
-1/4 cup dry white wine (leave out if you're planning to make this gluten free)
-teaspoon of uncracked peppercorns (I use white, red and black)
-5-6 cloves of fresh garlic
-2-3 bay leaves
-pinch of dried chill flakes

For a turkey:
-4cups of water
-1 cup table salt (if using kosher salt you need to double it)
-1/2 cup sugar
-2-3 lime cut into quarters, squish and toss it all in
-2 generous handfuls of fresh rosemary sprigs tied into a bundle (1/2 inch tight bundle to make your life easier)
-2 small bundle of fresh thyme (1/4 inch tight bundle)
-2 small bundle of fresh basil tied into bundle or 2 teaspoons dried
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-2 teaspoon of uncracked peppercorns (I use white, red and black)
-5-6 cloves of fresh garlic
-2-3 bay leaves
-pinch of dried chill flakes

2) Take pot off heat and set aside to cool.
3) Rinse poultry clean of giblets, blood clots (usually by thighs inside the cavity) and place it in your large container
4) Add cooled brine and add minimum 6 more cups of cold water (enough so that the bird can be easily submerged). I usually add in a total of 12-16 cups of water depending on the size of the bird.
5) Weigh bird down into the brine with a heavy bowl, cover and let sit happy in fridge for 4-24hours

The next day or when you're ready to roast...
1) About 1-1.5 hours before you want to stick the bird in the oven, take it out of the fridge, discard the brine, save the herbs and flavorings.  Let the bird sit in a roasting pan to come up to temperature (about 30min).  This lets the skin have a chance to dry.  Letting the skin dry helps make it super crispy.
2) Preheat your oven to 325F
3) Add a cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan (prevents burning). Stuff the herb bundles into the bird, the rest can be scattered around the pan.
4) Roast the chicken for 30-45min, roast the turkey for ~1.5-2hours until meat thermometer says its up to temperature (depends on how big your bird and how cold it was when it went into oven)
5) Let rest 10 min before carving, make an au jus or gravy with the drippings while the bird rests
6) Dig into super moist chicken/turkey!!

No comments:

Post a Comment