Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Zuni Cafe Turkey Brine
This recipe is very similar to Judy Rodgers' house-cured pork chops which my husband and I make quite often and absolutely adore. Her brine for turkey is similar, all you need is more water and a big enough vessel to hold the bird. We're cooking a smaller bird this year (making room for duck confit on the menu), so we were happy to see our bird fit perfectly in our 9.5qt Korean Lock & Lock container.
Zuni Cafe Brine for Turkey
A few crumbled bay leaves
4 Chiles de arbol
3 Crushed juniper berries
several sprigs of fresh thyme
7 1/4 cups room temp. water
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp salt (more if using kosher salt)
If using aromatics, place them in a small pot with about 1 cup of the water. Bring to a simmer, stirring and crushing with a wooden spoon, to encourage them to release their flavors. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Combine the remainder of the water, the aromatic mixture, if using, with sugar and salt.
Make enough brine to completely submerge your bird. Cure in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. (I only have a couple days of brining, so oh well Judy.) Rinse, dry and refrigerate the day before roasting your bird. Before roasting, rinse again, inside and out. Prop upright to drain for at least 1/2 hour. Dry inside with a paper towel.
*Judy Rodgers compensates less salt in her brine than the standard brine (1 gallon : 1 cup kosher salt) with time. So, if you're short on time, you can bump up the amount of salt.
*update - Our Thanksgiving Day turkey came out superb. I owe this brine recipe a lot of credit. Credit is also due to the fact that this was an organic, free-range bird. This turkey really tasted like turkey. Loved the light gaminess in our bird. I really encourage you to spend a bit more next Thanksgiving for an organic, free-range turkey.
Please read The Atlantic's Guide To Buying a Good Turkey. It's a great article! Eat less meat, eat better meat.