How and Why to Brine Your Turkey this Christmas | Meat & Co

How and Why to Brine Your Turkey this Christmas

Whole turkey 6kg

At the start of December, the decorations come out, the town centre lights go up, and we all start to think about our favourite meal of the year; Christmas dinner.

While some opt for beef or lamb, or even the old tradition of goose, the vast majority of us will be eating turkey on Christmas Day (and probably for a few days afterwards). Once a luxury item introduced by Henry VIII to British Christmas tables in the sixteenth century, turkey is now a seasonal essential. From the start of the month, the race is on to find or pre-order the perfect turkey that will make an attractive centrepiece on the dinner table and impress all the family.

Yet despite its popularity, turkey is infamously difficult to cook, with a tendency to be dry and rather tasteless. We all have our tips for ensuring moist meat, whether we stuff the bird, use butter to baste it or bacon to cover it. However, the latest turkey trend is brining, essentially either seasoning or soaking the turkey in salt before roasting – a process which many experts promise will deliver the ideal juicy meat and crisp skin we all hope for.

Let’s start with why

There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to prepare the perfect meal on the Big Day, and the turkey is the central and most expensive part of that. Brining is a simple and cheap method that adds flavour and moisture to this usually-dry meat. It also ensures a crispy golden skin, meaning you can have a turkey that looks and tastes the part without spending a fortune.

Brining also results in a quicker cooking time; you can do it while the turkey is still partially frozen, and it works well with a whole bird, a turkey crown or breast.

Which method is best?

There are two options – either wet or dry brining. To wet brine your turkey, you need to soak it in a salt solution. With this method, the timing needs to be spot on to avoid the risk of mushy, salty meat. It also requires a big enough receptacle to immerse the whole bird and enough space in the fridge to store it while doing so. For these reasons, dry brining is simpler, more practical and, understandably, much more popular.

How to dry brine your turkey

Create a rub – a simple seasoning mix that can include a variety of herbs and spices. Salt is essential, but you can add paprika, garlic powder, pepper and thyme or any other preferred herbs – rosemary and sage work well too.

This mix should be rubbed all over the turkey or crown two to three days before Christmas. Ensure the turkey is dry before rubbing and remove the giblets if necessary. Then simply wrap in cling film, turn the turkey upside down and store it in the fridge until it is time for roasting. Remember to turn the turkey back the right way up halfway through. This method can be done before the turkey is fully defrosted, so the brining and defrosting can be done at the same time.

Time to cook

When you come to cook the turkey, the roasting time will be reduced to 12 minutes for each 500g. You can still stuff the turkey as you would normally and baste with butter, though many chefs recommend roasting upside down for the first 30 minutes to make sure the juices soak into the breast meat.

You can add onions, garlic and white wine to the roasting dish, which will infuse with the juices to make the perfect gravy later. After cooking, the turkey should rest for 30 minutes, allowing the fibres in the meat to relax and some of the juices to soak back in.

Is it worth the extra effort?

Brine your turkey this year and the result should be an Instagram-worthy Christmas turkey that will look just like the ones on Christmas cards and taste so good that everyone will be queuing up for turkey sandwiches come teatime. The only downside is that the whole family will want to come back to you for Christmas next year!

Meat & Co offer succulent British whole Class A turkeys at either 6kg or 7kg, as well as a half or full turkey crown, all available for great prices, delivered frozen and perfect for brining. Alternatively, the Festive Family Box or Festive Value Box include all the essentials for Christmas dinner, as well as beef and pork joints to cater to all tastes and keep the whole family well-fed for the holiday.

View Meat & Co’s range of turkeys and festive dinner boxes; all delivered free straight to your door.