Brining for too long?
November 25, 2009 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Brine Filter: My turkey's been brining in very cold conditions for now 36 hours. Should I remove it?

I put the thawed turkey in the brine Monday night at 7:00pm. The turkey is 16.64 lbs, I used a bucket, and is sitting outside covered where it has been pretty cold. (I checked in on it and found some ice just barely starting to form on the surface.) My friend told me I need to brine for 3 days, but after reading around the web this morning, this seems like too long. So, as of right now, ~9:00am Mountain, my Turkey has been brining for ~36 hours. The apple cider brine that I used from Williams Sonoma marked 36 hours as the longest time the bird should be brinded. I don't want to brine for too long.

So, what do I do now? Should I take the bird out and rinse in off really well? If so, how do I store it until I put it in the oven tomorrow? Refrigerator? Bagged? Covered with foil?
posted by blueplasticfish to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As far as I understand, once the turkey reaches equilibrium, more brine time won't hurt. But, if you take it out now and refrigerate, the skin will get a chance to dry out, which means a crispier skin tomorrow.

So, yea, I'd take it out, rinse it really well, then store it on a tray in the refrigerator, uncovered. If I recall, Cooks Illustrated recommends this approach, if that helps to validate it.
posted by cabingirl at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2009

And I apologize for all of the commas...
posted by cabingirl at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would suggest taking it out of the brine, patting it dry, and putting it (in an appropriately-sized container, or even in the roasting pan) into your refrigerator, uncovered. Allowing your turkey to airdry in the fridge overnight is a great way to enhance the browning, and to recover the possibility of crispy skin that is too often a casualty of brined birds.

Renowned magazine for cooking geeks Cooks' Illustrated recommends this technique. [Link goes to a thumbnail description of an article. Article is behind a pay-wall, but there's a free trial if you're curious.]
posted by Elsa at 8:34 AM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take it out, rinse it off, cover it with foil and put it in the refrigerator.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:34 AM on November 25, 2009

Or, uh, what cabingirl said! Except that I apologize for none of my commas.
posted by Elsa at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: Elsa: No, rinsing?
posted by blueplasticfish at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2009

You'll definitely want to rinse it before patting it dry.
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2009

Muddgirl's right, you should rinse it before you dry it.

I just looked up roasted turkey for ya in my copy of the CI Best Recipes cookbook. They instruct you to remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it inside and out, pat it dry inside and out, put it on a sturdy rack over a rimmed baking sheet, and air-dry in fridge uncovered "for at least eight hours or overnight."

I would be more inclined to use a rack in a roasting pan, myself, to be certain you contain drips or splashes. Also, put the turkey on the lowest fridge shelf, so any drips don't cross-contaminate other foods.
posted by Elsa at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2009

Rinse, blot it dry with paper towels. I've never let mine air dry for 8 hours. If you want it to get brown, it needs to be dry, but after fifteen minutes on my BBQ grill it's plenty dry. We rub the skin with a coarse paste of olive oil, garlic, secret herbs and spices and it gets beautifully browned.
posted by fixedgear at 11:33 AM on November 25, 2009

Here's the Cook's Illustrated "Basics of Brining" article (PDF) that everyone keeps referring to.
posted by junesix at 1:12 AM on November 26, 2009

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