Question about Brining a Turkey

dawnpNovember 15, 2012

Actually, the question is about the gravy.

Since the brine has a lot of salt, does it make the drippings too salty to use for the gravy?

Has anyone had experience with this?

Thanks!

Dawn

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sushipup1

My only experience with brining led to way too salty and unusable drippings. So I don't do it anymore, and I manage to get a very god turkey using the high-heat method.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:26PM
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dawnp

Thanks Sushipup -

That's what I was afraid of.

I think I'll skip the brining. I always have a great turkey without it. The gravy is important to us.

I'll look into the high heat method.

Dawn

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:33PM
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colleenoz

I have brined for years and the first couple of times the gravy was very salty. However, I found that rinsing the turkey well before roasting cut down the salt levels and the gravy is fine now.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:49PM
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annie1992

Like Colleen, I found that rinsing the turkey before roasting cut the salt level down and the gravy is fine. I also make stock in advance to use and then only salt to taste as I'm making gravy.

However, I have found that the commercially available birds are most often "flavor enhanced", which means they are injected with a solution of (yes, you guessed it) salt and water. That way the company gets to charge you turkey prices for the extra weight added by their salt and water solution.

So, if you brine a turkey that's already "flavor enchanced" you're going to get an extremely salty bird. In addition, the "flavor enhanced" birds are already too soft and mushy, so brining doesn't do them any favors anyway, IMO.

Annie

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:54PM
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ann_t

I use to brine and I never found that the gravy was salty. I switched seven or eight years ago to Judy Roger's presalt method. This method is hassle free. No more buckets of water to deal with. And the texture and flavour is much better than with the brined method. Also, no problem with salty gravy.

I use it for all cuts of meat.

Pre-Salting
===========
Judy Rogers' Zuni Cafe
method

Servings: 11 to 15

Judy Rogers' Note: This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that is delicious as it is. But you can add other flavors as you wish. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting.

1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey

Kosher salt

1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons).

2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.

3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.

5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it's easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

9. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

My Notes:

This same method can be used for chicken, chicken pieces, pork roasts,
ribs, chops, etc..

With the smaller cuts just pre-salt 4 or five hours in advance. Even this short period of presalting makes an amazing difference.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:37PM
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lori316

Not trying to hijack, but....

Ann T, I think you just sold me on that method for this year. I wanted to brine, but our turkey is 26 pounds and with needing such a big container, I was feeling like I should just throw it in our saltwater swimming pool ;)

I have a couple of questions. Have you ever done it with a larger turkey? I'm wondering if I should wait a little longer to lower the temp. Also, I know brining usually cuts some of the cooking time...does this method do the same?

I don't know if a turkey of that size will fit in a 2.5 gal bag. Hmmmm

So excited for my favorite holiday...sorry about the hijack, Dawn!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Cynic

I was just watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen and they had been receiving questions about brining birds. They did a test with chicken breasts (presumably feeling this is about a portion) and did a brining then sent it to a lab to see how much salt had been absorbed. The results were equivalent to 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

The ones who had it too salty, could it be you brined it too long? They did mention that it'll get too salty if you brine too long. It would also make sense that rinsing would eliminate some surface salt too and I could imagine how bad it could get.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:34AM
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ann_t

Lori, I have presalted a 27 pound turkey. You don't need a bag. Just salt and wrap the bird in plastic wrap.

I use Judy Roger's presalt method, but I don't roast using her method. I follow Barbara Kafka's High Heat method. Roasting at 500°F. I've never found it necessary to reduce the heat. The odd time the bird is browning to much I have tented with foil. But that is seldom necessary except for very large birds.

Ann

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:34AM
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jxbrown

I use Judy Roger's pre-salt method too. It's easier than brining and gives a superior result. I've cut down a little on the salt and that seems to work just as well. I'm using 2 tsp of salt per pound now with a good thorough rinse. I might add that pork chops are much better this way. Salt them in the morning and cook them in the evening and they are really juicy. I haven't tried a shorter waiting time for poultry yet.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:46AM
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ann_t

Jxbrown, do you mean that you use 2 tsp of salt per five pounds? The original recipe calls for one tablespoon (which is 3 teaspoons) of salt for every five pounds. If you are using 2 tsp per pound that is the equivalent of 10 teaspoons for five pounds. A major increase.

After 24 to 48 hours there is no visible salt on the turkey. I just unwrap and let the turkey air dry in the fridge. I never rinse.

Smaller cuts like pork chops, lamb chops, steaks, benefit even from just a few hours.

~Ann

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:38AM
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jxbrown

Sorry, 2tsp per 5 lbs.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:57AM
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ann_t

Thanks JxBrown. I assumed that was what you meant. Just nice to have it confirmed for those that haven't tried this method.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:44AM
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sushipup1

OK, we'll try the pre-salting this year, and hope that the drippings aren't too salty for gravy. Thanks, Ann!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 11:52AM
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rosesinny

dawnp - you will not have drippings that are too salty if you're careful. You can simply rub the turkey with salt, but then you're only getting a salty turkey. Brine is more fun - cider or apple juice, salt, sugar, maple syrup or honey or even molasses, orange peels and orange juice, cinammon, cloves and spices, herbs from the garden, and you get great flavor instead of just salt.

I assume you're not using a frozen turkey like a Butterball. If you use one of those, there's no reason at all to brine because they're all injected with salt and water to increase their weight so you pay less per pound. But since you're buying a lot of water, you're not paying as little as you think.

I don't rinse either, because the whole purpose of the marinade is to flavor the turkey and if it's penetrated at all, simple rinsing isn't going to make a lot of difference.

But when making your gravy, make sure you don't add any salt at all. And I'm assuming you're using some kind of stock for it, so make sure that when you make your stock, you use no salt. The drippings will be sufficiently salty.

Finally, a lot depends on what you consider too salty. I like salt on everything and in spite of that, have extremely low blood pressure. But if you're concerned, maybe just don't use so much salt in the brine. As long as the concentration of salt in the liquid is higher than that in the turkey, you'll have some penetration. You don't have to find some recipe and follow it to the letter. Just use a lot less salt. If you use the herbs, etc., you'll still have a nicely flavored bird.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Cathy_in_PA

Hi Dawn,

Just thought you might like some additional reading about turkey, you know, in your spare time:)

ATK has once again gone into minute detail in the link below regarding brining vs. salting. They've also linked to a free roasted salted turkey recipe until November 26.
Good luck.

Cathy in SWPA

Here is a link that might be useful: Brining vs. Salting

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:43PM
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ann_t

Posted by rosesinny (nefw2@yahoo.com) on
Sat, Nov 17, 12 at 19:58

You can simply rub the turkey with salt, but then you're only getting a salty turkey.

Dawn, This information is not accurate. If you follow the instructions for presalting you will not end up with a salty turkey.

~Ann

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:01PM
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dcarch7

Anne, may be she means a salty tasting bird, not a very salty bird.

"---Brine is more fun - cider or apple juice, salt, sugar, maple syrup or honey or even molasses, orange peels and orange juice, cinammon, cloves and spices, herbs from the garden, and you get great flavor instead of just salt. ---"

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:47PM
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jxbrown

Rosesinny: really it works! If you don't want to risk the Tgiving turkey, try some chicken breasts or pork chops. I sometimes stuff herbs under the skin too. Roughly 1/2-3/4 tsp Kosher salt per pound. It gives a nice juicy result.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 11:25PM
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ann_t

DC, you don't get a "salty tasting bird". You get a seasoned bird. You aren't getting a salty taste.

Even when I brined, I never added sweeteners to the brine. Just as salt seasons the meat, so does sugar,honey, etc.. and I do not like my meat to be sweet. A few cracked garlic cloves and sprigs of herbs, but never anything sweet.

~Ann

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 11:31PM
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dcarch7

Seasoning, dry rubbing, brining, salting, curing, marinating, dry aging, wet aing, injetting, smoking, making confit ----- so many way you can treat meat.

Depending on your preference, type of meat, cut of meat and recipe, they all have different uses, they all have different effects on the outcome.

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 12:35AM
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publickman

I follow Ann's method with dry salting the turkey and then high heat roasting, and results have always been fantastic - plus it takes less time to cook the turkey this way. I have found that you can reduce the salting time from three days to two days and still get great results, but I do it the three days when I plan far enough in advance. It's also important to get the bird back to room temp before roasting, and so I recommend following Ann's instructions to the letter, as much as possible. If you've never done the dry salt method, you are in for a great treat and will impress your friends and family.

Lars

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 4:13AM
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rosesinny

DC, you don't get a "salty tasting bird". You get a seasoned bird. You aren't getting a salty taste.

dcarch got it. I didn't mean your bird will be TOO salty, just that it won't have anything else going on except the salt.

Other than a saltier bird or piece of meat, what can you possibly get if you add salt? One might call it "seasoning" but salt is salt. You'll get the flavor of whatever you add. So if you smoke the salt for example, you'll get a slightly smoky taste. And if you include some chili powder, you'll get a bit of kick.

It's impossible to rub salt on ribs or chicken or steak and not have it penetrate - that's the entire point of doing it, no matter what you call it.

The flavors are completely different if you only use salt as opposed to other ingredients. I brine or use dry rubs for pretty much every meat and it all depends on what outcome you want. In this case and in fact in most cases, I WANT the other flavors in the meat, or I wouldn't add them.

If you marinate a piece of steak or turkey in a combination of soy sauce, wine, honey, ginger, anise, and garlic, you'll get all those flavors even when you grill the food.

But if you just rub with salt, and we do that often enough, you'll only have that. That's OK if it's all you want, but I kind of like things that are more fun.

Just got done making the brine for this turkey BTW - apple cider, salt, honey, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden. We're having Korean guests and they're used to slightly sweet/salty flavors with meats, so it should be fine.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 5:58PM
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annie1992

The problem with using a lot of different ingredients in brine is the same reason it's a great method, because it does add flavoring.

However, in this instance the original poster said that the gravy was very important to her family, so that should be considered when seasoning.

So, if you don't want your gravy to taste like anything except turkey, you'll have to be careful what you add to brine, because those ingredients are going to also flavor your drippings.

If you don't want turkey gravy flavored with apple, honey, cinnamon, orange, whatever, you'll have to curtail their use in this instance and stick with the basics.

An alternative is to make turkey stock from some roasted wings or parts and use that for the gravy, thus avoiding unwanted flavors.

Annie

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:12PM
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compumom

I am extremely tempted to try the pre salt method this year. Normally DD makes the turkey, but I have volunteered to host this year. She usually does a far better job than me with the bird!
I'm hosting 10 people and plan to make a couple of turkey breasts as well as a 15 lb bird. This way everyone will have enough breast meat and some to take home too. If I buy the turkey tomorrow (Monday) do I salt ASAP and unwrap on Weds evening?
Thanks in advance for your help!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:28AM
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gardengrl

I've never salted a turkey only because it just seems that it takes a long time to prep and I worry about the turkey going bad. 3 days (min) to defrost and 3 days to season with the salt...that means the turkey is in the refrigerator unfrozen for almost a week.

Does this bother anyone but me?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:52AM
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ann_t

Gardengrl, Six days might bother me too. I only ever presalted a fresh, not previously frozen turkey. You can also presalt for just 24 hours. Even a short presalt will make a difference.

~Ann

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:08AM
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dcarch7

Salting can cause the temperature to drop.

That's how you make ice cream, using salt to drop the temperature.

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:15AM
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jxbrown

I've pre-salted chicken for 24 hours and pork chops for

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:27AM
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dcarch7

To be more effective, it is not difficult to salt under the skin.

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:35AM
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rosesinny

An alternative is to make turkey stock from some roasted wings or parts and use that for the gravy, thus avoiding unwanted flavors.

That is true and in fact I made stock this past weekend exactly for that purpose. If you don't do that and merely use the brine and drippings, you can end up with gravy that's going to be a bit too extreme! I just assumed plenty of additional stock on hand and that may have been a mistake.

In our case, I'm not going to get a lot of juice out of the turkey and will be adding most of the drippings to the gravy - the parts that caramelize add an entirely separate level of complexity, and some of the marinade flavors also amplify what's going on in the meat.

We salt, rather than brine, smaller birds - quail and chickens and game birds, although I gotta say, game birds often do really well with a fruit-based marinade.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Nunyabiz1

I brine my Turkey, yes brined drippings is too salty for gravy. I simply use Turkey Stock to make my gravy with which I think comes out better than drippings anyway. Just boil the neck and various other parts in the Stock, chip off the meat and you got great gravy and excellent turkey

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:44PM
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