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If you’ve decided to brine your Thanksgiving turkey before cooking it, you’ve taken one giant step toward having a better tasting bird. Brining, which calls for soaking the bird in a salt water and herb bath before cooking it, does two things. First, the saltwater tenderizes the bird by penetrating the muscle tissue and loosening the fibers. Second, the herbs and spices add flavor to the entire bird, not just the outside of it. Considering that most turkeys need to be roasted for hours, drying and toughening the meat, brining is a smart idea.
Brining is easier than ever with brine mixes made especially for turkeys. Here are three ways to go about it:
There are several kits available online in various brine flavorings. A kit that includes a bag means you won’t have to wash out and then clean a tub or cooler in which to soak the turkey (which also requires you to add ice to the brine bath to prevent the meat from spoiling; big turkeys may need to be brined for more than a day). You simply add water to the brine mix, put it and the bird in the bag, and refrigerate. That’s it.
If you’re the type of person who finds ordinary turkey boring (and we are legion), you should consider brining the bird and then applying a spice rub before roasting it. The brine will penetrate the meat, tenderizing it and impart flavor. The rub, which is typically made of spices and herbs, will add a big taste punch. You’ll never have bland turkey again. Take the guesswork out of the process by getting a kit that has both brine mix and rub.
If you are preparing an organic turkey, you can make sure you get your money’s worth by brining the bird in an organic brine. With an all-natural bird and no MSG or preservatives added to the brine, your bird will be very close to what was served at Plymouth on the very first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago—and taste great.
Written by The Editors for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.