Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Brine or not to Brine

I like to imagine Shakespeare all done up in a frilly little apron with a chef's toque balanced on his head trying to decide
whether 'tis nobler for the bird to suffer overnight
The salt and herbs of outrageous fortune (particularly when purchased from Whole Foods)

Or to baste, thrice, upon a skin rubbed with butter 

And, by opposing the brine, end one step of prep. To baste, to brine--

No more--and by basting to hope we end

The dry bird, and the thousand natural gacks

That dried out flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To baste, to brine--

To baste--perchance to forget to baste: ay, there's the rub,

For in that dearth of basting what chalkiness may come

When we do shuffle out the mortal fowl,

Must give us pause. 

Tonight, I cook the brine:

my pretty brine

I am using a brine for chicken I found in Ad Hoc At Home - by French Laundry dude Thomas Keller - I haven't changed it at all - so I probably can't just reprint it without getting sued (not that so many in the world read this blog - In reality I'm probably quite safe).  However, the important thing to know is that you should use 10 oz of kosher salt - (I use Davids because it doesn't have any anti-caking agents in it, it's just pure salt), one quart of water and 1/2 a cup of honey.  Then throw in whatever herbs or other flavor agents you choose. (garlic, lemons, parsley for example...)  All this is for a 10 - 12 lb bird.

You have to cook your brine the day before you brine your bird because it has to cool thoroughly before you dunk your bird in it.  Then don't let the bird sit in the brine more than 12 hours or your turkey will taste like a plate of table salt.  

I'm also planning on cooking a 10lb turkey the regular way (I have 20 people coming, and, perhaps more alarming, 4 of them are teenaged boys) - although I'm going to butterfly that bird, and cook it upside down for an hour before flipping it. 

I'll let you know which turns out better - perhaps Hamlet's poultry ponderings will be answered anon...

1 comment:

  1. Hysterical. Just what I needed :)
    (This would be Laura Worthington O'Dunne Sibson. Not to be confused with Laura Muzzi Brennan or Laura Harrington. Both lovely Lauras in their own right, of course. )


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