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Unread 08-26-2006, 10:47 PM   #1
Stachel
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Default Thanksgiving prep: Where do you thaw and brine your turkey?

I have turkey responsibilities this year, and have been reading the threads on turkeys with interest.

Where & how do you thaw and brine your turkeys if they don't fit in the fridge?

I know my main fridge won't fit that + everything else.

Seems like options are:

1) A cooler that I would keep putting ice into.

Would prefer not to do this because am concerned about not keeping it cold enough and then everyone getting sick... So I'd probably keep it so well iced that it stays frozen .

2) Another refrigerator.....

I have a small cube dorm-room-style fridge, but the inside seems to have too many non-removable things (the icetray freezer that hangs down, the power supply & motor for it that indents in from the back) that take up it's useful space. I really don't see a turkey fitting in there, especially if I want to have it in a container for brining.

I'm game for buying the right small fridge to use seasonally that would hold turkeys, and cakes (when my Auntie celebrated her 80'th birthday, the cake didn't fit either.) But they all seem to have extra features that keep them from having the "empty cube" space needed.
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Unread 08-26-2006, 11:09 PM   #2
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Rather than having to worry about brining, just buy a brined bird. Most commercial birds are brined anyway, the label will say injected with a solution of xx%........For a holiday once a year, Thanksgiving is worth spending the extra $$ for a Butterball that has butter injected also.

That gets your problem down to storage. Use the small fridge for storing some of the "other stuff" that's smaller and will work in the dorm fridge, put the big bird in the big fridge.

Cooler will work too, just make sure the bird stays below 40*.
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Unread 08-26-2006, 11:41 PM   #3
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I usually end up with a couple birds in 5gl buckets from Home Depot. Loaded up with ice and leave them in the garage. Never had a problem with temp here in the NW. Last year I ended up keeping one up wrapped in the beer fridge for 4 days to dry out the skin first.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 06:52 AM   #4
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I did a bunch of turkey for a cater recently and had the same problem. The cooler worked for me. I thawed without ice and then brined with a small block of ice in each cooler. After 24 hours brining there was still a little ice left and temps were safe throughout.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 08:40 AM   #5
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Stachel,

If you have never done a fresh turkey, you might want to give one a try. Depending on where you live, you may have to place a standing order a week or so in advance. Fresh ones are are one notch above frozen ones for flavor and moisture. That would take the "defrost" out of the equation.

I brine in a covered plastic bucket too. If it's cold enough (I live in Wyoming) I just keep 'er iced down and set in the garage on the cold concrete floor. If not I just put the whole bucket in to the spare....er, extra...uhh, okay BEER fridge in the garage.

Plan B would be to use a turkey breast only and put a prime rib or a pork rib roast on the smoker to go along with it. Ya know, just like the Pilgrams did.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcquer
Use the small fridge for storing some of the "other stuff" that's smaller and will work in the dorm fridge, put the big bird in the big fridge.
Good point kcquer! I have mostly small stuff in the fridge - all those "refrigerate after opening" bottles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leeper
I usually end up with a couple birds in 5gl buckets from Home Depot. Loaded up with ice and leave them in the garage.
To brine or to thaw? If you brine in those buckets, what do you put the turkey in? i.e., a monster-sized zipper plastic baggie?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leeper
Last year I ended up keeping one up wrapped in the beer fridge for 4 days to dry out the skin first.
Wrapped in foil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernQ
After 24 hours brining there was still a little ice left and temps were safe throughout.
Will those thermometers w/ temp alarms measure that low? (to 40?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye
If you have never done a fresh turkey, you might want to give one a try.
Have been thinking about doing that, but here's the thing -- Am going to do a "test drive" and want the conditions to be the same as actual, and how do I really know I'll be able to get a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving? When you buy a fresh turkey, how many days should you cook it within? (I'm sure it partially depends on the turkey, but..)

Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye
I brine in a covered plastic bucket too.
What do you put the brining solution in?
or... I guess if you have the fridge you don't need a separate container, and the bucket w/ brine + turkey goes in the fridge.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 06:55 PM   #7
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I have been able to find 2 and a half gallon Zipper top plastic bags they are "HEFTY" brand, that I have been using for marinating and putting the rubbed meat in the fridge for smoking the next day........which is basically marinating.
Those ought to be big enough to brine a turkey, if it isnt a T-Rex in disguise.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 07:23 PM   #8
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[quote=Stachel]I have turkey responsibilities this year, and have been reading the threads on turkeys with interest.

Where & how do you thaw and brine your turkeys if they don't fit in the fridge?

I know my main fridge won't fit that + everything else.quote]


Stachel, I think alot is going to depend on where you live and when you plan on doing this. Here in Colorado its cool enough in November that I brine my turkey in my turkey fryer and leave it in the garage. In the summer I still use the turkey fryer but place it in a tub of ice to keep cool. Smoking turkey is one of my families most favorite items to smoke. Along with the normal salt brine we add grade maple syrup to the mix and add maple wood to the smoker, Turns out AWESOME.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 08:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bossmanbbq
Along with the normal salt brine we add grade maple syrup to the mix and add maple wood to the smoker, Turns out AWESOME.
You add maple syrup directly to the brine mixture? In place of the sugar, or in addition?

Thanks everyone for your responses and help!
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Unread 08-27-2006, 08:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stachel
You add maple syrup directly to the brine mixture? In place of the sugar, or in addition?

Thanks everyone for your responses and help!
Here is what I do:
Brine
2 Cups Kosher or 1 Cup Table salt
2 Cups Granulated sugar
2 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Bottle Maple Syrup
2 Gallons cold water
1 Turkey fresh or thawed, not self-basting, giblets and tail removed, and rinsed thoroughly.

Turkey Mop
1 Stick of butter
˝ cup corn syrup
Black pepper and/or other desired seasonings

Wood
Hickory, Oak, Maple or Apple

If you want my whole procedure for smoking a turkey let me know and I'll email it to you if you would like, I have it in a word document.

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Unread 08-27-2006, 09:05 PM   #11
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WOW that's a lot of liquid!

Thanks much; email incoming!
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Unread 08-27-2006, 09:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bossmanbbq
Wood
Hickory, Oak, Maple or Apple
Oh definitely. I love apple when doing the Thanksgiving Turkey.

I usually just do my Turkey naked with no brining, etc. No matter what, though, just smoking the turkey yourself will make it taste so much sweeter than having baked it in the oven.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 10:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stachel
... Have been thinking about doing that, but here's the thing -- Am going to do a "test drive" and want the conditions to be the same as actual, and how do I really know I'll be able to get a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving? When you buy a fresh turkey, how many days should you cook it within? (I'm sure it partially depends on the turkey, but..)

What do you put the brining solution in?
or... I guess if you have the fridge you don't need a separate container, and the bucket w/ brine + turkey goes in the fridge.
Thanksgiving is the most popular time for fresh turkeys, should be no problem.

You lost me on "how many days should you cook it within?"

I use "food grade" plastic buckets for the brine. I have several of them in different sizes. Small ones for pork chops or chicken breasts, medium ones for whole chickens etc. You can get 'em free from the deli or bakery department of the market. Stuff like tater salad and frosting come in them.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 10:50 PM   #14
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Maple brined Turkey is the only way to go. I've done it the last couple years and everybody loves it.

You can buy Brine bags from Williams-Sonoma
http://ww2.williams-sonoma.com/cat/p...w248&cmsrc=sch

Like everybody else I use a cooler or bucket to store the turkey in a position so it's covered in liquid. I have an extra fridge to keep it cool.
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Unread 08-27-2006, 10:55 PM   #15
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On the subject of wood, apple and birds are a natural combo. A little hickory or pecan for color won't hurt but apple on chicken or turkey is just awesome.

Brining-Go with a prebrined bird or a fresh bird brined yourself, DON'T do both or you'll end up with a turkey that's wayyyyy tooo salty (been that route with chicken myself and it's not tasty at all).

Having done both, there isn't so much difference between the two that I consider brining myself worth the hassle. If you want extra flavors that a prebrined bird doesn't offer, just inject them, it's much quicker although brining does do a better job of distribuiting the flavors through out the meat, although IMO just good bird and apple smoke is all the flavor you need.

Another thing to consider is the demand for dark v white meat. Most of our holiday guests eat white meat only so I cook a couple of turkey breasts and 2 drumsticks for the dark meat eaters and everyone is happy. The parts are much easier to store. If your clan is into dark meat, a whole bird may be a better way to go.
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