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To Brine, or Not to Brine: That is the Question


Which turkey slice here was prepared in a brine?

Or is it?

With Thanksgiving Day just over a week away, many of you in charge of the kitchen are probably already making plans for the BIG FEAST. Some of whom have never roasted/deep-fried/kalua’d/smoked/burnt your own turkey before. To which of course you’re probably looking for tips wherever possible. And with that, hits on posts related to turkey on this blog have spiked dramatically since November rolled in.
Personally, I’ve been at the captain’s helm of roasting more than a few TGD Turkeys in my time, fortunately never burning any of them, and for the most part having VERY successful results. This, thanks to A: using a meat thermometer during the roasting process; B: WATCHING IT (an action often disregarded!) and C: Preparing the Turkey in a BRINE solution.


“Butterball B” soaking in brine solution of 1 cup Hawaiian Salt, 1/2 cup brown cane sugar, 4 bay leaves and 1/8 of a cup of black peppercorns in approximately (more likely a little more than) 1 gallon of filtered tap water

And what exactly is a brine? It’s a simple solution of salt, sugar and your choice of aromatics (the latter optional) in a water solution, to which you soak your bird for 30 seconds, to several hours, to overnight, to 10 years, depending on who’s teaching you how to do it. lol

When the turkey is brined, what happens is the salt solution unwinds the meat proteins to form a hollow tube. The water-based salt and sugar brine solution then travels into the protein, becoming trapped inside during the roasting process. The results being flavor-packed, super tender ‘n juicy turkey meat, arriving at the table practically with a SATISFACTION GUARANTEED seal of approval stamped on each slice.

No, but seriously, regarding how long to brine, in my experience, overnight and up to 24 hours is perfect, as in my third attempt shown above, while it turned out awesome, it was a little TOO awesome, depending what your idea of “turkey awesomeness” is. I mean, it was so soft, tender and juicy, the meat was almost like Pâté in some parts. I mean where I could practically spread the center part of the breast on a piece of toast like butter. Like BUTTAH’! This, after having brined the turkey for 48 hours. While some in our group liked that almost buttery texture, others preferred a bit more “chew” to it.

This here is a 14.6 oz. Turkey I brined for 24 hours, done roasting…

And here’s a Butterball turkey I brined for 48 hours done, all carved-up (no bones) and ready to dig in…

Brined Butterball Turkey Breast with an almost Pâté-like center!…

Sample…


Brined ‘n Roasted Butterball Turkey, Stuffing, Keanu’s Ham with a Li Hing Pineapple Glaze, Cranberry Relish, Mash Purtaters, Baked Marshmallow Yams, Mom’s “Kitchen Sink” Potato Salad, Keanu’s “Fully Loaded” Baked Potato Salad, Dinner Roll (carbo load!) and the All-American classic Green Bean Casserole with French Fried Onions. “Kanak Attack” soon to follow.

The bottom line is, if you plan on roasting your own big bird this year, whether it’s fresh or frozen with a factory solution, BRINE YOUR TURKEY! It’s such an easy step to do, and I can almost guarantee, as long as you don’t BURN IT, you and your ohana will be very pleased with the results!

The Tasty Island Turkey-related links:
Turkey Talk
Hawaii Prince Thanksgiving Turkey-to-Go

And if you don’t believe me, Google ‘turkey brine’ and you’ll be further convinced and enlightened on this scientific approach to super tasty, tender ‘n juicy Turkey onoliciousness!

P.S. Don’t forget, after turkey, there’s Jook!…

Turkey Jook
Turkey Jook garnished with Chinese Parsley

It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that I love you way too much…

Chambao (Flamenco-Electronic Fusion band from Malaga, Andalusia, Spain) – ‘Ahi Estas Tu’ with English translations

67 thoughts on “To Brine, or Not to Brine: That is the Question

  • November 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm
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    Pomai, since I was a child my dad roast the turkey but not sure what he was doing. It was always dry and he poke the turkey while roasting it thinking it good. The family never happy of the result. Now I do the roasting and bine the turkey and see told him not to touch it. Everyone happy he just make chow mein and other things now. Mom make the ham and turn very good also.

    Erica make pies and sushis.

    Reply
    • November 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm
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      Aaron,

      Folks used to dry or “plain” roast turkey react pleasantly surprised when they try a brined turkey for the first time. I remember when I first did it, it turned everyone at our get-together into enlightened turkey fans once again, realizing it can be taken to the next level. Once you go brine, you’ll never go back. :-P

      Reply
  • November 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm
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    Don’t forget the mayo rub. LOL

    Reply
      • November 15, 2012 at 6:50 am
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        And here I was going to suggest that the mayo makes an excellent base for herbs and the recipe you cite shows just how it is done, mixed in the mayo, not dropped on top. The only difference is I use a loose foil covering for most of the time. But like Amy, I do not claim consistency in my prep.

        Reply
        • November 15, 2012 at 11:05 pm
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          Glad to hear I chose one along what you had in mind. Admittedly, I’m still skeptical about your herb-infused mayo’ suggestion, whether it can beat brined, coming strictly from a kitchen science standpoint. However, we shall find out when I do the side-by-side comparo’ next Thursday. Stay tuned!

          Reply
  • November 15, 2012 at 12:21 am
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    Pomai, sound good and are you going to leftover into turkey pot pies? Mom turn our into Alfredo with turkey and springrolls.

    Reply
    • November 15, 2012 at 6:13 am
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      Kelike,

      I know for sure my sister will be using the leftovers for her favorite: turkey, stuffing ‘n mash sandwiches smothered in gravy… fork ‘n knife required. Good stuff!

      Now Turkey Alfredo and Turkey Spring Rolls sounds really interesting!

      I’m thinkin’ for the Spring Rolls, make it a full-on “Thanksgiving Day Feast in a Rice Wrapper” deal. Take the rice wrapper and fill it with strips of turkey meat, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams and a ‘lil bit of cranberry relish, with the latter two being for that acidic/sweet contrast. Wrap ‘n fry that puppy up, then serve this “Thanksgiving Day Feast Spring Roll” with a ramekin of turkey gravy for dippin’. Or perhaps flip it around where the gravy goes into the wrapper, and the dippin’ sauce is cranberry.

      Whooooooh!!! *light bulb blinking above head*

      Reply
  • November 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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    Excellent post, and I have brined turkeys for many years the exact way. One absolutely important point that you left out is NOT to over cook it: 165 degrees internal temperature, then take it out of the oven, cover with foil for 30 to 45 minutes, and the carry over temperature will take it up to 180 degrees. Also, there isn’t any need to baste. Why? Placing fat (a lipid) does not make the meat juicy (water does). That’s why brining makes the bird juicy. If you cook the bird to 180 degrees, the additional 15 degrees just evaporates whatever liquid is in the meat and therefore leaving you with dry tissue. It’s food science.

    Reply
    • November 17, 2012 at 11:47 pm
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      Glen,

      Thanks for pointing that out, which is VERY important!

      Folks, remember when you roast your Turkey, brined or not, to pull it out once the internal temperature reaches 165ºF deep in the thigh area, or 155º deep in the breast. This, using an instant-read meat thermometer poked (probed) deep in those spots. Or less than that. Remember, you can always cook it more, but you can’t “uncook” overcooked, if you know what I mean.

      Then keep your almost-done turkey on the counter covered with foil for about an hour to let it “rest”, where it will continue to cook to a residual internal temperature around the 180’s range. When your turkey feels cool to touch, yet warm, it’s ready to carve and serve. Good luck on carving. I’d recommend using an electric knife. Works like a charm!

      Reply
  • November 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm
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    Pomai,

    Never brined a turkey!

    My mother always roasted the turkey stuffed with sausage-sage stuffing which kept the bird moist. However, you must remove the all stuffing immediately from the done bird.

    I’ve always cooked my turkey stuffed with sausage-sage stuffing and also used a roasting bag to roast the turkey except when I smoked the turkey in my smoker with citrus and onion flavored water and cider bath.

    I use my table-top jet stream oven to roast a 12 lb. turkey without stuffing but I include oranges, onions, herbs and spices in the cavity in 1 hr. and 45 min. and it comes out very moist and juicy with nicely roasted browned skin.

    Reply
    • November 16, 2012 at 5:27 am
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      Ken-san,

      I’m quite shocked you never brined a turkey, especially coming from someone with so much experience in various meat preparation methods. I mean, what? You have like 101 different types of gadgets, stoves, grills, ovens and pit fires to cook them with! :-P

      As for cooking stuffing inside the bird, I remember Alton Brown condemning the practice on one of his shows, saying, “When it comes to turkey, Stuffing Is Evil. That’s because stuffing goes into the middle of the bird and is extremely porous. That means that as the turkey around it cooks, juices that may contain salmonella bacteria soak into the stuffing, which then must be cooked to a minimum of 165°F in order to be safe. Getting the stuffing to this temperature usually means overcooking the turkey.

      The way I see it, cooking stuffing inside a turkey turns the turkey into a rather costly seal-a-meal bag. If you’re a stuffing fan, I suggest cooking it separately (in which case it’s “dressing,” not stuffing) and inserting it into the bird while it rests. Odds are no one will notice the difference.

      There’s some interesting comments regarding turkey stuffing vs. dressing on this SeriousEats.com blog post.

      Reply
      • November 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm
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        Pomai,

        I think AB has changed his tune about stuffing as he has had a couple of episodes involving him stuffing the birds before cooking after he declared salmonella bacteria poisoning to the world.

        My mother’s recipe calls for the stuffing to be fully cooked and cooled in refrigerator night before putting into the bird, removing immediately after bird reaches finished temperature and holding in the hot oven with sides while the bird rests before carving.

        This has worked for Cornish game hens, chickens and turkeys for over 60 years and no one has ever gotten sick as no raw uncooked stuffing goes into the bird or served below 165 F degrees temperature and the breast meat has always been juicy and tender not over cooked on any bird.

        Reply
        • November 17, 2012 at 9:16 am
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          Ken-san,

          yes, I was already aware of AB’s recant on the stuffing vs. dressing “controversy”, however it’s still a scientific, valid point of concern.

          Truth be told, in the entire 40+ years in this body, so far I also have NEVER gotten sick from any poultry due to salmonella poisoning (knocks on wood and turkey bones).

          Shoots, from the kinda’ news that breaks regarding food-related epidemics, it seems we’re just as vulnerable eating fruits and vegetables, as we are eating meat. Go figure. When it’s your time, it’s your time. Hopefully later than sooner. And I don’t have time nor space to grow my own food. It’d be nice though!

          Reply
        • November 17, 2012 at 10:52 am
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          Ken-san,

          I forgot to add, thanks in part to you my friend, my Yelp review of Tacos & More out there in your neck ‘o the woods awarded me (and you!) with yet another Review of the Day, a.k.a. “ROTD” just a few days ago.

          I have yet to add Tacos & More as a post here. Perhaps I’ll wait until we meet for lunch again for more content. Great West side hangout!

          Reply
  • November 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm
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    Can’t decide if I can tell the difference. There’s always the dilemma of trying to find a big bucket to shove in the garage fridge, since you don’t want to make anyone sick by sticking it in a cooler on the back porch. You also have to pick all the peppercorns off the brined bird before it hits the roaster. I think I’ll go with Trader Joe’s pre-brined bird. They claim it’s brined in only kosher salt and not any of the fakey stuff.

    Reply
    • November 16, 2012 at 6:04 am
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      Traci,

      With my method using a bag instead of a pot, after tying it with the turkey and brine in it, If you surround it completely and covered in ice in the cooler with lid tightly sealed, it stays ICE COLD overnight. When you wake up, drain the partially-melted ice water and fill again with more ice. Keep in mind, you should start bringing the turkey to room temperature about an hour before roasting so that it cooks evenly.

      If you’re not confident in the cooler and ice method, time to take several shelves out of your refrigerator to make room for the big pot or bucket ‘o turkey ‘n brine. Besides, your refrigerator probably needs a good purging at this time of year anyway. I know mines did.

      Speaking of cooking & food, I was at the soft opening of the brand spankin’ new SAFEWAY in the also brand spankin’ new Laulani Village Shopping Center in Ewa Beach last night, and WOW! IM-PRES-SIVE!!! It’s modeled pretty much like the Kapahulu and Hawaii Kai locations (I’ve never been to the Beretania one yet, but I hear it’s also impressive). Get choke food samples, so worth going to the grand opening today just for that! lol Interestingly, there’s a Starbucks incorporated within Safeway’s store on the far end corner… of course. Nice, nice store that will surely be a welcome option to the only other game in town right up the street at Foodland.

      Ewa Beach trips me out. I’ve NEVER been to this part of Oahu until just recently, and man, what a town! HUGE! While the rush hour traffic to get in and out of there on H1 is a pain, once you’re there, it’s a pretty cool (albeit hot) place. I like it!

      Laulani Village Shopping Center will surely be a welcome new asset to the Ewa Beach community with anchor tenants Safeway and City Mill now open, plus Walgreens, Ross, Petco, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and other restaurants and small businesses slated to open soon. Nice Christmas lights too.

      Ah yes, how I love the Holiday Season. :-)

      Reply
      • November 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm
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        I think all Asians have a spare fridge in the garage – that’s what I used a couple times – took out the shelves and stuffed in the bucket of turkey mess. Then you have to figure out if you throw the gross turkey water down the drain, or somewhere outside. You also have to pick off the juniper berries and peppercorns. Will provide a full report on the Trader Joe bird. P.S. Half the stuffing in the turkey, half in a casserole; immediately upon roasting, dig out the stuffing and moosh together with casserole kind. Bird kind usually a bit wet, casserole kind a bit dry. So far so good – haven’t made anyone sick yet.

        Reply
        • November 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm
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          I sure wish we had a Trader Joe’s here in Hawaii. LOVE that store! Great selection of cheap, yet decent wine. Then of course all the nuts and exotic snacks.

          Reply
          • November 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm
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            In my state, grocery stores can’t sell wine or beer. I love trader joes, but it’s missing something without the wine and beer. I usually drive 30 miles to the next state (general metro area) to go to TJs and get my used-to-be-two-buck-chuck wine.

  • November 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm
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    Ihave been brining since 1994 when Cook’s illustrated first came out with it. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without Turkey, rice and gravy, even in Georgia!

    Reply
    • November 17, 2012 at 9:06 am
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      GP, I’m surprised the brine method is such a “new” revelation. It should have been instilled from day one of the Thanksgiving Day turkey tradition.

      Reply
  • November 17, 2012 at 9:59 am
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    Time for some TURKEY BRINE poll results!
    As of this comment, we have:
    • I wouldn’t have it any other way! 61.11% (22 votes)
    • Brined or not brined, doesn’t matter to me. 16.67% (6 votes)
    • I don’t care for brined turkey. 0% (0 votes)
    • I never tried a brined turkey. 16.67% (6 votes)
    • Brined turkey? Never heard of it. 0% (0 votes)
    • I don’t eat turkey. 0% (0 votes)
    • Other (I’ll elaborate in a comment) 6% (2 votes)
    Total Votes: 36

    See. The majority says to BRINE your turkey. If you’ve never done it before, once you taste and feel it, you’ll immediately become a believer in BRINE. Trust US.

    Reply
    • November 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm
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      Hey, Pomai!

      Brining convert since ’97! It is also a good technique for whole pork loins and other lean, mild and wild meats. Funny how it’s just really a watery marinade… a cooking prep we have been using for centuries!

      Reply
  • November 17, 2012 at 10:06 am
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    As of this comment, the poll result for “What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? (multiple choice OK)” are:
    • Turkey 13.76% (15 votes)
    • Ham 6.42% (7 votes)
    • Stuffing (dressing) 14.68% (16 votes)
    • Mashed Potatoes 10.09% (11 votes)
    • Yams (sweet potatoes) 4.59% (5 votes)
    • Casserole (Green Bean, etc.) 1.83% (2 votes)
    • Salad (potato, pasta, greens, etc.) 4.59% (5 votes)
    • Bread Rolls 4.59% (5 votes)
    • Gravy 14.68% (16 votes)
    • Cranberry Sauce (or relish) 5.5% (6 votes)
    • Pie (Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan, etc.) 10.09% (11 votes)
    • Regional/Ethnic/Family Add-ons (Sushi, Pasteles, Lumpia, Poke, etc.) 5.5% (6 votes)
    • Spirits (beer, wine, cocktails, etc.) 2.75% (3 votes)
    • I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving 0% (0 votes)
    • Other (I’ll elaborate in a comment) 0.92% (1 votes)
    Total Votes: 109

    Those so far 10+ numbers goes to prove, all you need for a complete Thanksgiving Day “Feast” are Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing and Gravy, with Pie for dessert.

    So you what you do is, invite your favorite family and friends (if you wanna’ invite me too, count me in!) over on Thanksgiving Day, and tell them you have this HUGE FEAST awaiting them. And all you cook is turkey, stuffing/dressing, mash, gravy and pumpkin pie. That’s it. And with that, you do your BEST DAMNED job on each dish. Ha!

    Reply
  • November 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm
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    I like to try to brine & smoke the turkey maybe this Christmas!

    Reply
    • November 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm
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      Diner E,

      Charsiu baste, perhaps? Along with Lup Cheong stuffing. Whooh!

      Speaking of suggestive faves, I have a game plan for the brine recipe this year. I’m gonna’ try using shoyu and mirin instead of Hawaiian Salt and sugar this time. I think the shoyu will add a more savory flavor and depth to the turkey meat, while the alcohol in the mirin will help to infuse it. Whooh-ha!

      Reply
      • November 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm
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        We can bring our cheap, frozen turkey to the local BBQ joint down Chinatown and have them roast it like duck. They charge $1/lb. Super good, but you don’t get any drippings to make gravy,

        Reply
        • November 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm
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          I’m pretty sure there’s places in our Chinatown district that will do that as well. Alicia’s Market & Young’s Fish Market sells roast turkey tails charsiu style. Supah ono… fatty, but ono!

          Reply
  • November 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm
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    Hi Pomai,
    I just purchased an 8 pound Mary’s organic turkey breast from WF and brined it for 8 hours (Fire & Flavor Herb Brine) and roasted it at 325 degrees for a little more than 2 hours. Delicious! I also brined a fresh Foster Farms turkey breast in the past but Mary’s is superior to FF. Anyhow even though it’s an extra step and takes additional planning I feel the brining process is worth the time. You will be rewarded with a moist turkey that’s very flavorful.

    Aloha!
    Kiyo

    Reply
    • November 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm
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      Nam Myoho Renge Kiyo (sorry, I couldn’t resist!),

      Hats off to you for cooking a brined turkey so early before Thanksgiving Day. That’s actually very akamai (smart) to do a “test run” before subjecting your guests to either your success or mess; most likely the former. The brining process is most definitely worth it, and so easy to do. Salt. Sugar. Water. Soak Turkey. How hard is that?

      Reply
      • November 19, 2012 at 5:52 am
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        Good morning Pomai,
        I had to Google that one! This year I’m going to my cousin’s for Thanksgiving however I wanted to invite some friends over for pre-Thanksgiving at my home so that’s why I roasted a turkey yesterday. I would love to smoke a turkey next time. Have you tried this yet?

        Reply
  • November 19, 2012 at 5:57 am
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    Kiyo, ohayo gozaimasu to you too, and nope. Never tried smokin’ a turkey yet. Which is a point Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E made that was ironically missing at the Smoked Meat competitions over the past 4 years. You’d think Smoked Turkey would be a no-brainer, however, oddly, it’s not really on the map.

    O.K., now that you mention it, and Diner E is so adamant about it based on experience from his dad doing it, I’m gonna’ get one more turkey and smoke it. Coming soon to a computer/tablet/smartphone/CIA briefing room near you: the ultimate Brined vs. Herb-infused Mayo’ Rubbed vs. Smoked Turkey SHOOTOUT. Stay tuned!!!

    P.S. Just did a weigh-in this morning, clocking in at 172.2 pounds. Excessive visceral fat almost completely burnt off, abs near flat. Workin’ on “6-pack” (not sure if I can achieve that at my age, but we’ll see!). 160’s is knockin’ on the door! Will post a photo of my latest progress in the next post, post-Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    • November 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm
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      Hi Pomai,
      OK let me know how the smoked turkey turns out. I suspect it will be awesome! Good for you regarding your recent weigh-in. I miss your “socks on the scale” photos!
      Aloha, Kiyo

      Reply
      • November 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm
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        Kiyo,

        Just got home from work and about to put Turkey A (the one that will be smoked) into the brine solution, which will include shoyu, mirin, ginger, garlic and chili pepper water diluted in water. So it will be smoked “Big Island” style, albeit thinned out considerably so that it functions as a brine, not a marinade.

        I’ll include a “socks on the scale” photo along with one of myself in the next post weigh-in update. Feelin’ lean ‘n clean!

        Reply
    • November 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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      Smoking Turkeys (and deep-frying them) is very popular in the South and East Coast. Has been a traditional way to prepare turkey for decades. One surprise is when you heat up a smoked turkey drumstick, it tastes juat like ham! I use smoked turkey legs in my Cajun Red Beans instead of ham hocks (less fatty) and it’s always sooooo ono! They sell smoked turkey legs at the Renaissance Faire in MD and those are the best deals there!

      Reply
      • November 30, 2012 at 5:37 am
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        Keith,

        Aloha Beer Company used to offer a smoked Turkey (leg) Drumstick, running – IIRC – about $4 each. Which from the couple I sat next to who ordered and DEVOURED IT the time I was there, confirmed that’s exactly what it tastes like: smoked ham. Looked like ham too, being very pink in color (dark meat).

        Oscar Meyer’s “Turkey Bacon” is also a dead-ringer for the real deal in flavor.

        Reply
  • November 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm
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    Kiyo, check out this link Diner E sent me earlier. It’s like the ULTIMATE post on smoking what the author claims is the “Ultimate Smoked Turkey”. We’re talkin’ SERIOUS details. Amazing post!

    http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/chicken_turkey_duck/ultimate_smoked_turkey.html

    Also, I got word a little earlier that my cousin will be bringing over a Kalua’d turkey, plus my aunt will be roasting one as well. So instead of myself cooking 3 turkeys, which will surely be too much, I’m sticking with the 2 smaller birds I already have. Instead of doing a roasted brined bird, I’ll smoke Turkey A using my Big Island Smoked Pork recipe (which is a brine solution anyway). While Turkey B will get the Herb-infused Mayo’ rub treatment, ala Pat. I’m just trying to decide how strong I want the shoyu and mirin flavor. I may dilute it a bit to tone it down.

    Reply
    • November 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm
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      Good evening Pomai,
      I checked out the link you attached regarding smoking a turkey. Very comprehensive information and I can’t wait to try it. I have a birdie in the freezer so there is a possibility that I will try it out soon. Smoked “anything” is good to me. Let me know how your smoked turkey turns out. Good sandwiches with leftovers for sure.
      Aloha, Kiyo

      Reply
  • November 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm
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    Well, I’m convinced based on your post. This year I will brine. This vegetarian doesn’t eat turkey, so I hope my test subjects, I mean guests, will enjoy it!

    Reply
    • November 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm
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      h,

      I’m staying on my pescetarian “diet” *cough-cough* indefinitely, however as you notice, I do make exceptions to eat meat on special occasions (lucky for my readers who like eating meat!). The only thing that’s hard when you rarely eat meat, is the fat; especially if it is fatty (like a Ribeye), the gristle really gets to your stomach.

      Reply
      • November 21, 2012 at 11:28 am
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        I tried being pescatarian for about a decade, and just went back to vegetarian last year. For me, being vegetarian started as a texture and OCD thing, and when I was pescatarian, I could only really stand the texture of tilapia and a few other things. Then I had a disturbing run in trying Maryland crabs, it was… disturbing and a texture and ocd thing, so back to vegetarian I went, lol. I’ve never experienced issues going back to meat because I never looked back (went vegetarian at 14 when I was old enough to prepare my own meals and my parents no longer cared what I ate, and I just turned 38 (eeek!), so it’s been a looong time). I have heard that people have issues when they go back to meat for a little while. I sometimes toy with veganism – well, mainly no-lacto vegetarian, and when I go back to dairy I notice it from my sinuses to my stomach!

        Reply
        • November 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm
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          I know someone who is ALLERGIC to dairy, which is different from being lactose intolerant. What happens when dairy is consumed, is their mouth develops an itch, followed by a slight constriction of the esophagus, making it more difficult to breath.

          I could go Ovo-lacto vegetarian and still be content, but never strictly vegan, as I love milk, ice cream, cheese and eggs too much.

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          • November 22, 2012 at 4:03 am
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            Oh, that would be terrible. I’m not lactose intolerant, but dairy makes me feel sluggish and makes my allergies worse. However, I like sour cream and cheese, and there are no good alternatives for that. As for milk and ice cream, So Delicious’ coconut milk based ice cream, yogurt, milk and coffee creamers are really good (and not odd and off putting like other substitute milks). As for eggs, I eat things baked with eggs, but I never eat egg dishes. Just a texture issue. Sometimes it’s annoying having issues and OCDs but I really feel terrible for the person allergic to dairy. It’s in everything, that must be such an inconvenience to them!

          • November 22, 2012 at 11:54 am
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            h,

            A reader recently mentioned a soy substitute for shoyu in the form of what’s labeled as ‘Coconut Aminos’. With the manufacturer’s claim that it has a much higher amount of essential amino acids (protein) compared to soy. Not that I’m in search of more protein, but still, it sounds like an interesting product to try.

            You and your OCD… please don’t remind me of own vices. Ha!

            Just want to remind everyone cooking a turkey for the first time (or last time), if you haven’t started yet, make sure to remove the neck and “gizzard” packet out from the neck area before you start roastin’ it! Those parts are ESSENTIAL for a great stuffing/dressing and gravy!

            Aloha and have a very, very Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m out for the rest of the day (it’s currently 12 noon here in Honolulu). Too busy cooking, walau’ing (talking) n’ arguing with family and friends. LOL!

            :-P

  • November 21, 2012 at 6:39 am
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    Will kalua the turkey after a brine (and mayo rub),

    Reply
    • November 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm
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      Wow, brined, mayo’ rubbed AND Kalua’d? That’s gonna’ be one mighty tasty turkey!

      Reply
    • November 23, 2012 at 11:45 am
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      Pat,

      So, I did the Mayo-rubbed Turkey yesterday afternoon, and it turned out AWESOME! I simply infused Best Foods (Hellman’s) Mayonnaise with dill weed, chopped finely, along with fresh-cracked black pepper, plus I also rubbed the turkey with Hawaiian Salt before putting the Dill ‘n Pep’ Mayo’ rub on. I kept it breast-up on the roasting pan, which is against some folks theory about juice distribution, and still, the breast meat was SUPER MOIST.

      What was most noticeable was how little juice dripped out of the turkey during the whole roasting session, which I did in a conventional, non-convection oven for 3 hours, then letting it rest for over an hour. When I carved it, it was still hot-to-touch.

      My main concern was that the mayo’ rub would scorch in the oven, and it did turn dark brown on the top breast part about halfway through the roasting time, where it eventually needed to get covered with foil as a heat shield, which worked out like a charm.

      Overall, the mayonnaise – at least in theory – obviously did its job by sealing in the turkey juice, while preserving an ideal texture. Where, let me put it to you this way: I could literally pull the meat right off the bones, no knife necessary. YET, the turkey breast and leg parts still had “chew” to it. PERFECT. I think the Hawaiian salt rub before I put on before the Mayo’ rub on really helped kick-up the flavor, where the skin was to die for. OMG! So ono!

      So there you have it. If you don’t have time for brining, go Mayo’. Infuse with your favorite aromatics, apply Hawaiian Salt, then rub the infused Mayo’ on liberally both outside and in, roast, rest, carve and that’s it. Winnahz!!! Super Mahaloz Pat for the GREAT suggestion!

      Reply
      • November 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm
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        Likewise. Did the kalua. Ti leaves, foil, Weber and hickory smoke. Fall apart. I did a dry brine I read about. I used Salty Wahine Guava Garlic. Just pat dried turkey (no rinse or wash), ripped off cap of salt and put all over bird. 6 hours in fridge with only a paper towel over. Mayo rub right before it goes in. 3.5 hours slow cook in Weber with smoke just about continuous. Took breast foil off last 20 minutes with heavy smoke. BTW, I have turkey on ti leaves and ti stems with a bit of water in bottom of foil pan to prevent burning bottom.
        Thanks for giving it a try. The egg really gives it a bakers glaze.

        Reply
  • November 23, 2012 at 7:19 am
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    Pomai, tried the Turkey Brined, it was the best white meat I have ever eaten, always ate the dark meat because the white was always so dry. Even gravey did not help. I did adjust the salt and sugar, brined for about 12 hours maybe a little less. I would trade the brined turkey for a Teryi beef plate with extra rice and extra salad from the Rainbow Drive In though. That is only because I am many miles and hours away. Thanks again for the tip. I am now making the Turkey Jook. John

    Reply
  • November 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm
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    ポマイ様、
    I have brined turkeys in the past with good results, but have also had good results from dry brining, or even a pre-basted bird (like a Butterball). Lately I’ve just gone with the pre-basted, since it’s the easiest. =) I always stuff my turkeys. Nothing beats the flavor of stuffing from inside the bird. I use Cooks Illustrated’s method of preheating the stuffing in the microwave and stuffing the bird immediately before putting it in the oven. The stuffing is then removed from the bird immediately after it comes out of the oven. This minimizes the risk of salmonella.

    By the way, your post on turkey jook changed my life. For the past few years I have always made jook after roasting a turkey (or if I can obtain one someone else has roasted). It’s SO much better than risotto, IMO. I’m making some right now, in fact.

    Reply
    • November 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm
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      Norio,

      I had to use Google translator to figure out what the characters were. Pomai-san. Cool! I should have that vinyl cut and put on the back window of my new car.

      Yeah, that’s a great Turkey Jook recipe. I got it from my Aunt who is half Chinese.

      Reply
  • November 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm
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    We make good old fashioned turkey soup with the leftovers. Turkey bones and carcass with bay and garlic for broth, say an hour simmer, then remove bones, add sherry,Worcestershire, chopped basil, oregano, thyme, turkey meat, carrots, potato, fresh sliced mushrooms or shitake dry, celery w/ greens, onion. Optional chopped head cabbage, parsnips
    Ono. Freezes very well.

    Reply
    • November 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm
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      Pat,

      I’ve made several chicken stock batches using my pressure cooker and it works like a charm. Makes it in half the time vs. conventional pot. And I find it has a richer, deeper flavor, as the pressure helps extract all the flavor out of the marrow.

      I’ll try it out with the saved turkey bones later.

      Tomorrow I’ll do the smoked turkey in the Weber.

      Reply
      • November 25, 2012 at 6:41 am
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        Don’t forget mayo. heh,heh

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        • November 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm
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          Nah,no mayo’ on the smoked version. I had it soaking in a shoyu and sugar-based brine. I had to put it back in the freezer, as I don’t have time to smoke it this week. Next weekend hopefully I can squeeze the session in.

          I just got back from my regular beach run, and man, the almost full moon looked so ominous and “looming” in the dawning hours, especially behind the misty cloud cover.

          Reply
  • November 28, 2012 at 1:22 am
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    Late to the party….as always. Some solid advice throughout the posts.

    We always brine any poultry, with pretty good results. The mayo rub is a tactic that a few of the top mainland teams use to compete in the chicken category of sanctioned BBQ contests. It definitely works, but great results can be accomplished without it.

    IMO… brining properly, cooking at the right temp and pulling a bird off to rest at the right time is the key. It’s not an easy process and one that I missed by a half hour this year.

    Still, good!

    Reply
    • November 30, 2012 at 5:24 am
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      Crash, I didn’t get to try your chicken this year at the cook-off, however it LOOKED fantastic, as always.

      I’m sort of “brine-curious” how it would taste if you took the drippinz’ from your smoked beef brisket, and used that as the brine base solution for the chicken, which would obviously impart a BBQ Beef flavor into the poultry. At least on paper. Try that next year!

      Reply
      • December 4, 2012 at 12:07 am
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        It’s a solid thought Pomai, but we did get lucky enough to finish first in chicken this year. I have a feeling we won’t be changing much at the next event.

        Still, you got me thinking……

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        • December 4, 2012 at 2:04 am
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          Certainly an idea worth considering on a practice run.

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  • November 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm
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    Thanks to your brining prompting, my mother nearly had a religious experience when trying the turkey. She hasn’t stopped talking about it, in fact, she wants a brined turkey again for Christmas instead of a ham. Now I just need to remember how I brined it. Silly me, I didn’t bother to check my salt inventory and used my last cup on the first attempt, brining in an oven bag. The bag broke and all the brine ended up in the sink. For the second attempt I used half a bottle of Soy with Ponzu, a packet of dry onion soup mix (basically anything in the house that had some salt content), some apple cider vinegar and spices. The salt for the rest of the dinner came from my stash of those little salt packets you get with fast food. I knew they’d come in handy someday. Lesson learned: always check for salt, never assume :) Anyway, the turkey eaters said it was beyond delicious (“like turkey ice cream” was one of the comments – umm, this isn’t iron chef people!). So thank you!!

    Reply
    • November 30, 2012 at 5:59 am
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      h,

      OK, Shoyu, Ponzu and Dry Onion Soup Mix as your brine components? GENIOUS! Dang it. I’m sure curious now how my Shoyu, Mirin, Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water and Ginger-infused brined turkey will turn out once it’s smoked. STAY TUNED!

      “nearly had a religious experience” is all you needed to say. Music to a foodie’s ear, and surely a line I’ll use in the near future. Thanks! :-)

      Reply
  • December 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm
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    You should do a “Best Pumpkin” segment. Best pumpkin pie, best pumpkin crunch, best pumpkin cheese cake, etc…. Sounds like fun.

    Reply
    • December 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm
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      Noe,

      I’ve gotten into Kabocha Pumpkin lately, simply steaming/sauteeing it, then serving it with some butter or olive oil, plus a little salt ‘n pep. That’s it. That, plus a Bok Choy and Tofu Salad is a typical dinner for me. I’m now 170 lbs. (37 lbs. total weight loss). Pictures coming next post.

      Reply
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  • November 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm
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    Pomai and expert cooks: I can never totally defrost my turkey even if I start defrosting 5 days before. Do you think it is safe to brine it  while still defrosting it in the refrig? I’d think it would speed up the defrosting (3 days in advance) and also salting it up pretty good. Or is that too much brine? I’ve never brined but this year want to try. I always have images of salmonella and all the warnings they give us. What are your opinions.

    Reply
    • November 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm
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      Blue Jade,

      The turkey should be completely thawed before you put it in the brine, otherwise obviously the solution won’t be able to penetrate the inner part of the meat that’s still frozen.

      Also, as I mentioned, I wouldn’t brine the turkey longer than 24 hours, as when I did that, it turned out TOO tender, almost like Pate.

      Reply

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