To brine or not to brine

That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the belly to have moist, succulent white meat but possibly to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously oversalted drippings? Or to take arms against a sea of gravy troubles by roasting a dried-out bird unbrined? Either way, there will be tryptophan enough to make us sleep. To sleep? perchance, to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.

The rub – indeed. I’ll rub instead of brine. All the TV and cookbook chefs insist you simply must brine, and a quick blog search suggests a lot of home cooks are doing the same, like this one, this one, and this mother of — are you ready?? — 12.

I did brine the turkey one year, but it didn’t really seem all that much better than the army of unbrined birds I’d cooked in years past, and it was a bit too salty for my taste. And yes, I followed the instructions exactly as to the ratio of salt to water. So I’m going to thumb my nose at all those epicurean experts and cook the bird the way my grandma always did in the days before anybody’d heard of bird-brining. Given a choice between perfect turkey and perfect gravy, I’ll choose perfect gravy. My kids are mad for gravy, and for them, everything else is something to pour gravy over.

This lady is having a “Turk-off” with her husband, cooking hers unbrined while he cooks his brined, and then seeing whose is better. I’ll be checking back to see the results.

Comments 4

  1. Shannon wrote:

    I do hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. How was the turkey and gravy?? Our Deepfried was flavorful and yummy. Mom got the gravy from a local grocerystore…not the boxed I thought she was going to use. I am sure it was not as tasty as yours…but still good. What is on the menu for Christmas?

    Posted 30 Nov 2008 at 10:50 pm
  2. Brigette Russell wrote:

    The turkey was okay, but the gravy was great. One of these years I’ll cook a brined breast, roast the dark meat unbrined and make the gravy from that. But somehow the idea of not having a whole turkey to display doesn’t seem quite right.

    I never make turkey on Christmas. Usually ham, and once in a while if I get grandiose ideas, prime rib. You?

    Posted 01 Dec 2008 at 2:41 am
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