Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grill Your Turkey (Part 1): Brine

At this point, you will need a turkey.  I hope for your sake that it is already at least partially thawed.

We started thawing ours yesterday in a giant pot full of cold water, changing the water every two hours.  In roughly twenty-four hours, we got to a point where the turkey was ready for work, so I suppose that if you start right now you might still make it.  Granted, you're looking at a couple of midnight wake-ups to change your thawing water.  But I think it can be done with a bit of diligence and determination.

One turkey, thawed.  I removed the giblets and the little plastic carrying handle.
Assuming that your turkey is thawed, now is the time to start brining it.  Why brine?  Because brining enhances flavor and helps the turkey retain moisture during cooking.  Also: brining shrinks the skin, which helps the turkey absord wood smoke during the grilling process.

There are lots of different ways to brine a turkey.  If you have a giant pot and a large enough refrigerator, the easiest thing to do is to soak the turkey overnight in salty water.  If you want, you can augment the water with wine, vinegar, or anything else you want to use to augment the bird's flavor.  Our refrigerator is not that big, though, so I dry brine our turkey.

Salt and pepper brine.
I wound up using 3 tbsps of each for a 17 lb turkey.
The brine becomes a rub.  Easy-peasey.
I use a dry brine that's 50% salt, 50% pepper.  I mix it up and rub it all over the turkey like a rub and then let it rest for a while.  In this case, the turkey is gonna sit in our fridge overnight.  The salt will pull the moisture out of the turkey, drying out the skin, but the turkey will then (theoretically) reabsorb the moisture, locking it in when we cook tomorrow.

Once brined, I covered the turkey and
stuck it back in the fridge.
We'll talk tomorrow about sticking this thing on the grill.

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