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As many of you know firsthand, it is something really special when you cook a meal for another person and they genuinely love it. Thanks to the culinary advice of several board members (Chef Aaron most of all), I had that experience yesterday. Specifically, Aaron, Oyey, & Z strongly advocated brining the turkey, which is something I had not previously done. I decided to give it a go. The results? Suffice it to say that when my mom said "I don't know if I've ever had this good a turkey", I could've just gobbled with glee! :D

The CF boys indirectly encouraged me to go for it, so I'd like to do the same for any considering adding the element of brining to next year's Thanksgiving dinner preparations. It was easy, and I thought I'd show y'all (w/my wife's 'modeling') what I did in this little pictorial tutorial. Do I really think anyone is going to use it? Of course not, but humor me. ;)




OK, first of all Priscilla went out and purchased these good-quality brining bags. They were really well-made (no leaking) with gusseted bottoms. Two sizes: smaller for chicken, pork chops, etc. and the larger ones for turkey.




Not knowing of a better option, we followed the Brown Sugar Brine recipe on the back of the brining bags box. (BTW we found these at Williams-Sonoma, Flat Iron Crossing Mall.)




Started with kosher salt.




When have you ever gone wrong adding brown sugar?




Next came the whole peppercorns.




Then the water is added and you bring it to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.




Transfer the brine solution to a large bowl and let it cool to lukewarm (about an hour).




Then 1.5 gallons of ice water are added to the cooled brine.




Place bird in brining bag. (BTW, we got a fresh, local turkey this year -- not frozen.)




Pour brine solution over turkey into brining bag. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.




The following day, take turkey out of brining bag, dispose of brine, and rinse turkey clean in cold water.




Pat turkey dry.




Then truss (tie up) the turkey with kitchen twine, and place on a rack in a roasting pan.




Aaron had talked about the option of turning the turkey breast-side down for part of this process. Following this idea, we decided to roast the bird breast-side down for the first hour-and-a-half (that's when I snapped this pic). Supposedly this ensures the bird gets done evenly.




Flipping the 16-lb. sizzling-hot turkey over for the remainder of the roasting time was probably the most difficult/awkward part of the process. I was really afraid we would drop it on the kitchen floor like a basketball, giving our hands serious burns to boot. Somehow we managed, but we need to develop a better method for this step in the future! (The reason for the light color on top in this pic is b/c we had just inverted the turkey for the final 2 hours of roasting.)




My mom & dad playing cards w/my girls while the turkey's cooking. (Thought I'd throw this in. ;D )




During the roasting process, Priscilla basted the turkey every twenty minutes. (I should have mentioned that before putting it in the oven, she rubbed the outside of the bird w/butter, and sprinkled it w/salt & pepper.


Anyway, after this I forgot all about the camera and sat down to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. The family just loved it, and went on about how delicious the turkey tasted. Bringing a simple pleasure like this to those I love means more to me than I ever knew it would. Again, I thank those on the forum who helped me do this better this time around. You've made me a brining believer! Can't wait till next year (or maybe Christmas?).

Sorry if too many pics. Indulge me.

Blessings, Hop
 

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looks good Hop, i told my boy about this and he was deep frying 2 birds. one he brined and the other not. both were very good but the brined one was better. so thank all of you who came on with brine suggestions
 

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Hop,

I am happy that I could add enjoyment to one of my favorite holidays of the year. Brining is the best method for turkey and I think you have seen the proof. Now time to try pork chops or a chicken, both benefit tremendously.

My favorite picture is the one of the family playing cards, that is my favorite part of getting together with my family.
 

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Nice, I fried this year, no brine, but injected. Anytime I smoke a bird, it gets brined. Always comes out wonderful. Nice pics, shows people how easy it really is.!
 

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nice job Hop! i did pretty much the same and received the similar results. but did not do breast down.
 

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Sound really GOOD! Since I went to Bro-in-laws... didn't get any leftovers... but picked up a couple markdown birds where I work and will fix them this way pretty soon... MMMM! Bird Skin!!! Homers favorite! mine too..
 

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Brining turkey is the deal in my opinion. Your's looked yummy. If turning the turkey was a pain (which I'm sure it was based on your comments!), try cooking it right side up in a 500 degree oven for the first 30 minutes, and then tenting it with foil and turning the heat down to 350 to finish. I've always been scared to turn a hot bird so this method has been my go-to. I use a remote thermometer so I can watch internal temp without opening the oven (thickest part of the breast to 162 and 20 minutes of rest works for me). I agree with the pork chop and/or chicken comment too. Cooking is second only to fishing for my personal enjoyment. Happy holidays! CL
 
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