Brining, Shmining

Let’s talk turkey.

Have you ever tried to brine a 28-pound turkey? I’ve done it. I use a cooler. But I have to tell you, it’s a pain in the…honestly, I’ve never been able to taste the difference. I won’t be doing it this year.

Every year around the holidays, magazines and newspapers try to find a new way to talk about turkey. And they find a new way to complicate it and make us all feel like schmucks, because we are not putting sage under the skin in a decorative pattern, or deep frying it, or whatever.

My mother-in-law swears by the plastic bag method, and for once (well, more than once) I completely disagree with her. First of all, roasting plastic in the oven for a few hours simply cannot be healthy. And second of all, the skin doesn’t get crispy. And without crispy skin you might as well buy canned turkey or have Thanksgiving dinner at a diner.

So here is what I recommend: Get a locally grown organic turkey. Put it in a roasting pan. Maybe add some salt. Bake it at 375 degrees or so for 20 minutes per pound. Every oven is different, so watch and monitor accordingly. When the bird’s finally brown and crispy, and the pan is filled with clearish (rather than red) juices, and the leg wiggles a bit when you tug it, take it out. Put it on a platter; leave the juices in the pan for making gravy.

My recipe for gravy is easy too. Put a pan on the top burners and turn the heat on high. Add about a quarter cup of flour to 3/4 cup of water (or more volume at that ratio for a larger turkey). Make sure the flour is thoroughly stirred into the water—or else you’ll get lumpy gravy—then stir the mix into the roasting-pan juices until it’s thickened (about a minute or two). Salt and pepper to taste! Yum!

If the turkey turns out to be a bit dry, that’s what gravy is for.

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3 Responses to Brining, Shmining

  1. Sasha December 5, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    My husband is a big advocate of brining. I think it’s good if you’re just doing white meat (eg, a whole turkey breast) but doesn’t make as much sense for the whole bird. Plus, what a pain!

  2. JettagirlJess December 11, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    Just wondering – do you baste your turkey?

  3. Maria March 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Nope, I don’t baste…but it doesn’t hurt to do it once in a while.

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