Next time, I’m doing it my old way.

I went to brine my turkey today. As I mentioned yesterday, I ended up with a 16.55 lb turkey for these festivities.

I wanted to do something simpler than last year’s brine, both in terms of set up & flavor. So, I went poking around. Like last year, someone at one of my other internet haunts recommended a site that I thought looked great. No boiling, clear instructions on just how much salt to use per gallon, instructions on time.

Basically, drop your turkey into your brining bag, dump in enough water to submerge (or basically so), then dump in the appropriate amount of salt. Brine for 12 – 24 hours. (Note, I do not have a bowl large enough, and they do recommend turkey in bag, then whole thing in bowl, THEN water and so on.)

What a disaster.

First, 16.5 lbs of bird is just big. It takes a lot of water to mostly submerge that thing. And, because I didn’t have a bowl, I was having to carefully manage the bag so the sides didn’t just flop over and dump water everywhere. Thankfully, I am pretty cool, even when I’m botching the supposedly simpler technique, and so I managed to keep the water in the bag.

I didn’t, however, manage to keep turkey juices from getting EVERYWHERE. Just putting the turkey in the bag, initially, involved getting the outside of the bag juiced up. If I’d had Bill around to help, we probably could have managed it cleanly, but I wasn’t able to alone.

As I added the water, I realized I really should have put the bird in breast-side down. Why? Well, the breast is the part that usually dries out, and I hoped it’d reduce the floating if I put it in that way. So then I had to flip the bird1 using one hand, while steadying a giant plastic bag full of water and raw turkey. Good times. Amazingly, I managed it.

Then, I went to add the salt. Only to discover I didn’t have quite enough. So, I made up the difference with something else I see a lot of in brine recipes: brown sugar. But then I wasn’t sure if the sugar would dissolve, since brown sugar has a sort of “wet” texture to it. This left me trying to figure out how to stir in the solids to dissolve.

Let me tell you, if you’ve never been up to your elbow in cold water, turkey juices and turkey, in a plastic bag that you’re trying not to dump all over your kitchen, you simply haven’t lived.

Anyway, that bastard’s now in the fridge, brining. I’m a little concerned that I compromised the seals. The bag isn’t currently leaking, but I worry it’s closer to leaking than any other time we’ve done this. Of course, all other times, the weather outside has been just a big chillier, so we’ve brined in a cooler outside. I don’t feel it’s cool enough this year. So there’s a cooler outside full of ice. When Bill gets home, we’ll figure out how to move the brine bag & turkey into the cooler & leave it outside.

Tomorrow, I’ll take it out of the brine, rinse it, and let it air-dry in the fridge for ~24 hours. Hopefully, this will all result in a tasty, tasty turkey.

fn1. I know. I know. YOU are perfectly capable of flipping the bird with only one hand. Some of us aren’t so lucky.