Hey! There's a turkey butt sticking out of my bucket

The GF and I have been brine-ing turkeys for several Thanksgivings now, and have the routine pretty well down. A brined turkey is great. It has plenty of flavor and is much less likely to dry out in cooking. You end up with a tasty and moist bird. If you want to try brining your own turkey, try Alton Brown's recipe.

This year, we had planned to have a bunch of people over to my apartment for dinner, but had to change plans at the last minute. Now the two of us have a 19-pound turkey (and twenty pounds of Costco potatoes) all to ourselves. That means Friday through Sunday we eat turkey sandwiches, and Wednesday through Friday we eat a lot of turkey soup. (The missing days are reserved for room service in CA.)

To brine a turkey, you start the night before. You cook up the brine, make a bunch of ice, and find a bucket. You pour the brine and the ice cubes into the bucket and then add the turkey.

We used the same bucket from previous small-turkey years and poured in the brine. Then we added all the ice cubes we have ever made. Now my bucket was half full.

With ice.

And brine.

And now there was no room for turkey. So I spent the next several minute pulling out ice cubes.

I stuck the turkey in and and then began pulling out even more ice cubes. Have I mentioned that the brine was icy?

The turkey was still too big.

So tried to reseat the turkey on in the bucket by shifting the ice around. Have you ever shifted ice around like that? There's a reason those crab fishermen on the Discovery Channel where those big suit while there out on the deck, in the ridiculously tall waves off the coast of Alaska. It's cold and painful.

Let me tell you -- it is very different from the summer BBQ. Then in the comfort of 95 degree heat, you plunge your hand into the ice filled water in the cooler looking for the last real Pepsi. It take a while to find it, because the cooler is filled with nothing for Caffeine-free Diet Coke. Seriously -- why do people by so much of that junk? I can understand a six pack, but filling the cooler with it? What are you thinking? Were they out of Sierra Mist?

Regardless, fishing around for that last real Pepsi is painful, but it's tempered by the hot weather, the fact that the rest of your body is warm, and that there are all those people around enjoying the sun.

Messing around in the icy brine surrounding the sickly pink looking saggy flesh of the dead, naked, 19-pound bird while trying to not catch salmonella is not quite as much fun. But I did what I had to do, and almost got it done.

Eventually, the feeling did return to my fingers. And they all stayed attached, so I'm ready for whatever the next step is.

So here's the turkey. Only 7 more hours until it's time to flip the bird.

2008-11-27 Turkey in the Brine (1)

2008-11-27 Turkey in the Brine

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy the day and stay safe.


Wendy said...

I was with you all during the time you were talking about the moist and delicious bird. I was ready to rush right out and brine some turkey. Then you got to the actual instructions and now I'm just tired. :)

Thanks for an amusing Thanksgiving! (We're having our Thanksgiving tomorrow.)

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Good Eats fan. Alton is the ultimate cooking geek. I hope you let everyone know how it turns out.

Haley H said...

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your brined turkey.

Anonymous said...

I heard of alpinists losing fingers and toes while conquering the Mount Everest, but you almost lost your fingers, while 'bathing' a dead bird. Cooking, the last big adventure! Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Hey there, sorry about your butt. I mean, your turkey's butt. Oh, and your frostbitten fingers. Thanks for the funny turkey day story. Hope you had a nice day and got home safely from any travels. We came home from down by Olympia and the traffic heading south on SR 16 through the toll booths for the Narrows Bridge was like a parking lot. Those poor people!

Anonymous said...

Alton Brown is a fat-hating jerk. I don't watch his show or any channel that shows it.

Until he comes out and apologizes for publicly encouraging fat hatred and therefore discrimination against fat people, he is on the very top of my really, really bad list.

Dave said...

You did the brine. Excellent! I have a tip for you that worked great for my brining. When they go on sale get yourself one of those big thermal water containers like you see on utility trucks for the workers. I got mine at walmart but Home Depot and others have them too. A good sized turkey will fit neatly into it as well as water and ice, etc and stay cold for hours without constant checking. It frees up a boatload of time for other things you want to do.

Shari Thomas said...

I did the "brine the turkey" this year for the first time. Using Alton's recipe as a guide, I made a few adjustments.

I also trussed the bird according to his instructions. Had to watch it several times to get it right.

The only scary thing was starting the bird at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Our very clean oven is now a greasy mess, and the fire alarm was reminding us every few seconds that something was generating smoke.

I must say, this was the best bird I've ever fixed... glad the bird "took the plunge".

Anonymous said...

We did Alton Brown's recipe. Of course, when I say "we" I mean my HUSBAND followed the recipe. We put our HUGE 24 pound bird in a cooler to brine. Apparently, we did this last year, too. (We did?)

Was definitely "Good Eats".