Christmas is around the corner and now is the time to start preparing your turkey. Turkey is notoriously hard to cook perfectly – it’s easy to dry out. We thought we’d re-post Ben De Jonge’s helpful post on how to cook the perfect turkey.
Guest post by Ben De Jonge
There’s nothing quite like the sinking sense of disappointment, embarrassment and frustration you get after spending $80 and several hours on a Christmas lunch for friends, only to find the turkey as dry as the Lancelin dunes. So, that was Christmas 2012, and we swore it wouldn’t happen again.
We considered our options. Move to Bali for Christmas. Two small birds instead of one beast. Prawns. We Googled. We searched. We read.
We discovered brining
Brining made sense. What better way to get moisture into a bird than drowning it in a bucketful of seasoned water over night.
And so last year, for Christmas 2013, we bought our big bird and brined it.
Brining involves soaking your meat, it works for steaks, roasts, anything really, in a couple of litres of water with around 1/3 cup of salt added and whatever variety of spices and flavour boosters take your fancy.
We used cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, cardamon pods, orange zest and juice, pepper, sugar and a few other bits and pieces.
We went basic and we went to Bunnings. We got a standard plastic garden bucket and it was the perfect size for the mighty bird, like hand in glove. We cleared the bottom shelves of the fridge and in she went, over night.
The next morning, remove it well before oven time so it can come up to room temperature. Shortly before you start to prepare it for the heat, remove from the brine and pat it dry inside and out with paper towel.
From there, we employed the usual tricks. The bird was raised on a bed of onion, celery, carrots and garlic. We stuffed butter under the skin and wrapped it up nice and cosy in a blanket of full bacon rashers. Finally, we covered it firmly in foil for the majority of the roasting.
The result, I’m happy to say, was a turkey that was beautifully moist all the way through and superbly seasoned with the flavours of the spiced brine.
Take it from us, brining is brilliant. If you want to bathe in the glory of the best bird ever, try it next Christmas. Or if you can’t wait that long, try it on your next big bits of meat for the oven or BBQ.
Ben De Jonge is a husband, father, home cook and keen jogger. He’s also the Director of The Cut, a website design and marketing agency based in Perth, Western Australia.