his year the Thanksgiving meal is on your shoulders and you don’t want to have the bone dry turkey your aunt served last year so you’ve researched how to brine a turkey. While it may seem intimidating, brining is simply a matter of soaking the bird overnight in a solution of salt water.
The salt water is absorbed into the turkey, giving it an extremely moist texture. The process is straight forward and you start by rinsing the turkey inside and out and then submerging it in a large bucket that is kept in your refrigerator overnight. In the morning you remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it and place it in the roasting oven.
The oven should be set at 325 degrees and to temperature before you place the turkey in it. The length of time a turkey cooks is strictly dependent on the weight and whether it is stuff or not. The brining process does not make a difference to cooking time. A rule of thumb when cooking turkey is 15 minutes per pound. A 14-18 pound bird will roast in 4 to 4 ½ hours. There are variables to consider such as whether the bird is stuffed or not. This will add another few minutes per pound to the cooking time. Some people prefer cooking at 350 degrees so this will shorten the length of time.
The length of time is only one factor, the internal temperature of the turkey is by far much more important. The minimum internal temperature of the deepest part of the bird should be no less than 165 degrees. This requires the use of meat thermometer that is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, again in the breast and the wing away from the bones which are heat conductors and won’t give an accurate reading.
An undercooked turkey can contain a pathogen called salmonella and those nasty critters don’t die until they hit 165 degrees thus the importance of that magical number. Thinner parts of the bird will have higher temperatures. Pathogens thrive between 41 and 135 degrees so anything the turkey touched including the brining water should be disinfected or disposed of.
The juicy turkey you want can be done with brining, but safety has to be considered when working with poultry, especially salmonella. Using a meat thermometer to check numerous areas of the turkey to determine it has reached the recommended 165 degrees is the best thing you can do to assure your hard work is enjoyed.