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November 24, 2014 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Okay, having a problem with dry brining my turkey. Help?

I've done the Russ Parsons' "dry brining" technique, aka "the Judy Bird" for the past two years with great success. Usually I salt it up on Monday and put it in the fridge (sealed up in plastic), unwrap it on Wednesday and cook on Thursday.

This year I'm trying it with a frozen bird, which Parsons (and other cooks/food writers) says is fine. But the bird's so frozen I can't get the giblets out. Online advice says rinse it until it loosens up enough so you can reach in there. I've been rinsing for a while (with cool water) and it's still really, really frozen and rock hard. And I need to leave the house. What to do?

-- Rinse it with hot water? (Still, I don't have a ton of time right now.)
-- Leave it on my counter all day (around 70F degrees).
-- Leave it in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. Check it tonight and hopefully it'll be loose enough? Not sure if that's enough time for it to defrost enough. Then, do the dry brine.
-- Salt the exterior now, put it in the fridge. So at least some of the brining is going to start? Then unwrap it tonight/tomorrow morning (hopefully??), get the giblets out, salt the interior, and rewrap?

Or...what else?
posted by BlahLaLa to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd go for a modified version of Option 4: Salt now as best you can and put it the fridge. If the giblets come out tonight on their own, then salt the interior, re-wrap, and put it back in the fridge. If they don't come out tonight on their own, rinse with cold water until the giblets free up, then re-salt the whole bird.

I would not do either of the first two, but I'm also a food safety wimp.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:44 AM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

What Betelgeuse said.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:55 AM on November 24, 2014

Betelgeuse gives excellent advice. You could go with a wet brine this time, it would really speed things up. Then air dry the bird in the fridge.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:18 AM on November 24, 2014

I tried dry-brining last year, and found it identical to wet brining à la Alton Brown. This was the same bird (a Diestel heritage cross), same cooking method (rotisserie to 165F). Since the dry brining isn't working out, I would just leave the bird in the fridge and wet brine roughly 8-12 hours before you're going to eat it. Rinsing is way more work than leaving it in 38F water. Don't leave the bird on the counter, the outside may get bacteria and the inside will still not thaw. Cold water is a surprisingly good defroster, and the salted cold water of the brine doubly so. My first brined bird was better than any other turkey I had before in my life.
posted by wnissen at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry -- no wet brining ideas, please.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:38 AM on November 24, 2014

get a steady slow stream of cold tap water directed into the cavity. let it go for a couple of hours...go do some pilates or something...come back and de-giblet. Don't worry about leaving the house.
posted by Gungho at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2014

I'm following Kenji's lead this year with dry brining. He says 12-24 hours ahead is fine. The difference is that he pats the bird dry, sprinkles the dry brine on the skin side only (not interior, I tweeted him and double checked - so your giblet situation is a non-issue) and then puts the bird in the fridge uncovered. If you choose to brine for longer (also fine), the only difference is that you loosely cover the bird with either plastic wrap or cheesecloth. The brine is 2 Tbsp baking powder and either 1/2 c Diamond Kosher Salt or 6 Tbsp of Morton's Kosher Salt.
posted by quince at 1:05 PM on November 24, 2014

Response by poster: Okay, I did what Betelgeuse suggested. Will report back in the morning. Thanks!
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:37 PM on November 24, 2014

Response by poster: Okay, I had an epic wrestle-fest with the semi-thawed bird today but I did manage to get the neck out of the body hole, and the giblets out of the neck hole. I think I got everything. I did end up rinsing the whole thing again and resalting, this time salting the inside too. Thanks!
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

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