To Brine, Or Not to Brine

With Thanksgiving in a little over a week away, many of us are planning out our annual quest for a crisp, moist, perfect turkey. Some swear that the best way to achieve that is by brining the turkey — soaking it overnight in salty water. Others disagree and say that you lose the great turkey flavor and texture when you brine, ending up with an over-salty bird. And you have to store a 20-pound bird submerged in a big tub of liquid in your home days before the big holiday. Of course, you could find a happy medium and go the dry brining route, aka pre-salting, for a well-seasoned turkey outcome without the texture issue.

We asked a few local chefs how they cook their Thanksgiving turkey and, not only do they all brine first, they also all cut up the turkey and cook the breast and legs separately:

Bryan Gregg, chef and owner of Escape Montclair says, “Definitely brine!” but instead of brining a whole turkey, he de-bones it first, brines it and cooks it using the sous vide method and then grills it. He gets the thighs and legs super crisp by confit them in duck fat.

Mark Papera, chef and owner of Fricassée French Bistro starts by brining an organic whole breast. Then he butterflys it, rubs it with an herb butter, ties it up and roasts it. He braises the dark meat and then adds it to his root vegetables stuffing.

Chef and owner of The Orange Squirrel, Francesco Palmieri starts by brining his turkey in a flavorful mixture of beer, apple & lemon juice, cider vinegar, and various spices & herbs. Then, like the others, he breaks down the bird. “I take the legs and debone them, fill them with dressing (stuffing) roll and tie them before roasting”

Montclair Turkey Ride

Tell us home cooks of Baristaville — how do you get a delicous turkey?

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(Photo: Flickr)




One reply on “To Brine, Or Not to Brine: That is The Turkey Question”

  1. I brine. Turkey (when I’m not invited to lovely home filled with friends, family and laughs), Chicken- whole and breasts, and pork.

    There is a big difference between pork/poultry that’s brined, and not.

    The pork loin is the big winner at the profhouse- once a week, easy fast and delicious. Pork is a must because the pork raised now is WAY TOO lean, flavorless, and cooked to temp- dry as hell. A loin brined in simple salt water, browned on the stovetop, then oven cooked to 145 is a revelation. I usually add a balsamic/honey/pan juice reduction.

    Roast cauliflower, or asparagus at the same time= a great 30 min. meal. “Perfect for working profs!”

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