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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Editor's Choice: Fire & Flavor Turkey Brine

I never knew what the big deal was with the whole brining the turkey craze. It seemed like a lot of sound and fury. When we were picking out our turkey this year, there was a lovely end cap right next to the birds full of these brining kits from Fire & Flavor. (I have used their products before with great results.) We are nothing if not adventurous chefs, so we got the kit and took it home with our enormous turkey (18 lbs!).

The brining kit comes with almost everything you need, not unlike the pickling kit. You have to add sugar and vinegar but it comes with the all important brining bag. Frankly, we don't own a plastic bag, beyond a garbage bag, that is big enough to put an 18 lb. turkey in. And the idea of putting my extremely expensive and important piece of turkey in a garbage bag is off-putting. The brining bag was great. It even zip locks!

A little bit about brining from the Fire & Flavor website, if you, like me, don't get what the fuss is about:
Brining is a process that greatly improves the moisture and flavor of lean meats. Brining actually 'unwinds' meat proteins using salt while marinades tenderize the meat by breaking down meat fibers with an acid. Marinades only add flavor to the meat it penetrates, which is typically just the surface and can often times be high in sugar. Brines, however, trap moisture and flavor in the entire protein, leaving you with tender, juicy and full-flavored end results, without significantly raising the sodium level.
So we carefully followed the instructions and brined the bird overnight. The next day we popped it out of the bag and following Alton Brown's turkey recipe, put it into the oven. It cooked fast! We were done early, but I am not sure if that was the brine or not. But the flavor! Wow, that was a flavorful turkey! Enormous as it was, every bit of it was tasty with rosemary and goodness. Our guests clambered for take home bags and we were able to oblige. The next day, it made amazing turkey tacos and Sunday was turkey salad on pumpernickel.

If you are not sure about brining, try it on a smaller, less important piece of meat with Fire & Flavor's Swine Brine or Chicken Brine. You will not be sorry.

-Elizabeth Dugan