Just finished brining the turkey, drying it, and stuffing it into my fridge. This year, as always, I am using Cook's Illustrated as my guide. Cook's Illustrated is THE BEST cooking guide. It is extremely scientific and even a bit geeky, but really wonderful. Since last year, I have started putting it in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before cooking it. This, according to Cook's Illustrated helps give you crispy skin. I started brining a few years ago after reading an article on Cook's Illustrated about the effect of brinig.

Cook's Illustrated
Jane Bowers, head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Kansas State University, says salt is used in meat processing to extract proteins from muscle cells and make these proteins more viscous:

“Brining turkey causes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. They become sticky, which allows them to hold more water.” Citing a similar example, she says frankfurters without sodium are limp. “It is the salt that gives hot dogs their plumpness,” she says.

Tina Seelig, scientist and author of The Epicurean Laboratory (W. H. Freeman, 1991), says salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. “When protein strands unwind, they get tangled in one another and trap water in the matrix that forms,” says Seelig.

And Dr. Bill Schwartz, director of technical services at the Butterball Turkey Company, adds that when these unravelled proteins are exposed to heat they gel — much like a fried egg white — and form a barrier that prevents water from leaking out of the bird as it cooks. The capillary action that draws blood out of the meat and gives it a milky-white color also helps the brining solution penetrate deep into the meat, according to Schwartz. This accounts for the pleasant salty flavor even of the inner breast meat.


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7 Comments

The Turkey came out pretty good. Mimi made some good cornbread stuffing for it too. Thanks to Scott for sewing up the bird. Thanks to Shane for helping on the carving.

I'm a big proponent of "brining". Takes a little time and can even get messy, but it really pays off. Returns are moistness, plumpness, and more flavor.

Also recommend stuffing Turkey with rosemary, sage, thyme, potatoes, carrots, celery, and sliced apples.

Finally, try making your own, fresh cranberry sauce. The difference it makes is amazing.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to properly carve a turkey.

I looked around for carving instructions. I found a good one on cooks.com. Several other instructions that show up on Google were missing the important slice along the side of the bird before slicing the breast. This makes the breast slicing much more organized and clean. At least in my experience...

Wow... I never dared try cooking a turkey when I lived in Japan, and I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to cooking; I usually ended up buying a roasted whole turkey at Seibu.

The lack of a proper oven is a huge obstacle I guess... my 4000yen Toshiba glorified toaster oven was great for pizza and cookies, but a little undersized for a 20lb bird... next time I come through Narita I'm stopping by to see what kind of cool kitchen Joi has hidden in his farm house there... :)

'm a big proponent of "brining". Takes a little time and can even get messy, but it really pays off. Returns are moistness, plumpness, and more flavor.

Also recommend stuffing Turkey with rosemary, sage, thyme, potatoes, carrots, celery, and sliced apples.

Finally, try making your own, fresh cranberry sauce. The difference it makes is amazing.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to properly carve a turkey.

The lack of a proper oven is a huge obstacle I guess... my 4000yen Toshiba glorified toaster oven was great for pizza and cookies, but a little undersized for a 20lb bird... next time I come through Narita I'm stopping by to see what kind of cool kitchen Joi has hidden in his farm house there... :)

Wow... I never dared try cooking a turkey when I lived in Japan, and I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to cooking; I usually ended up buying a roasted whole turkey at Seibu.

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