To properly honor my favorite holiday, and because I ate two Thanksgiving dinners this year–one of which I had absolutely no part in preparing and one for which I worked most of the day–here are some final thoughts. Think of it like Jerry Springer’s final thoughts on what the hell is wrong with those people.
I spent most of last weekend watching Food Network. They were airing almost non-stop Thanksgiving specials, which is extremely awesome. Here are some things I learned/thought of:
- Turkey (or any meat) loses about 20% of its weight during the cooking process. Brining your turkey (or any meat) adds about 10% of its weight back to it, in addition to adding lots of flavor directly into the meat, not just on the outside (as with basting and rubs).
So, even if you overcook your turkey by several degrees, it will still be more moist than it would have been if you had cooked it to the correct temperature without brining.
- Your brine should be primarily salt and a liquid, but not something that’s acidic. The difference between marinating and brining is that the acid in marinades (vinegar, citrus, etc) actually breaks down the meat, while the meat absorbs the salty brine (and any additional flavors you add).
This is why meat marinates for a relatively short period of time, whereas brining happens for long stretches of time. Marinate too long and you’ll have a mushy broken down mess.
- I like Thanksgiving because it seems like it is what Christmas should be…it’s not commercialized or religiously affiliated, there are no obligations to purchase anything for anyone–just hang out with friends and family and eat some good food. Plus take a four day weekend while you’re at it.
- In reality, you should absolutely not stuff your turkey. It takes way longer to cook, by which time the outside meat will be dry and overcooked. But it just makes the stuffing so much better…a little dry meat is worth it to me. Plus you’ve brined your turkey, so it won’t be as dry as it would have been anyway.