I always brine. I know just by admitting this, I’m an anachronism in the food world, so yesterday. Even Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t brine anymore. But I like the slightly slick juiciness that brining gives to white meat, and it’s never hurt my dark meat.
Plus, it’s one slightly gross, slightly perverse aspect of Thanksgiving that Retrogrouch and I share. He’s not interested in too many aspects of cooking Thanksgiving. I tried to make a planning list. I said, what do we need to do for Thanksgiving? He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “Stuffing. Mashed potatoes.” I said yes, of course, but what else?
“All ye know on earth,” he said with solemn finality, “and all ye need to know.”
I frowned and returned to my list. My happy love piped up:
“Oh, and don’t forget to brine the turkey.”
Each year we try to figure out a slightly less inconvenient way to haul the greasy, bloody carcass into a vessel that will hold it and not smell like revolting raw dead things afterward. It’s always a chore and an obsession to find, scrub, sterilize, KERPLUNK, brine, scrub, sterilize. Plus the feeling we’re doing something really wrong. Not to mention that smell on my hands.
For the record, I do a simple brine: 1.75 cups kosher salt (or 1 cup regular salt, if I have it) to 2 gallons of water. Keep in cold place like the refrigerator overnight, or for 8-12 hours. No sugar, no herbs, nothing fancy.
A few years ago, I discovered my canning kettle was just the right size and relatively easy to clean. Plus, I boil it each time I use it. Handy, no?
Well, the increasing size of our guest list, and corresponding increasing size of our turkey finally hit a crisis point this year, and I can’t find anything for the brining vessel. The canner was an utter failure, as you can see above. In fact, I’m so stymied, I’m just sitting here with a mess on the counter and bloodlust in my heart.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…