Friday, November 16, 2007

Turkey fun

The Chicago Tribune's John Kass skews a little right for my politically but he is a White Sox fan and a cook so I do appreciate some of this columns. Yesterday he decided to share his turkey secret to the world: brine it. And I couldn't agree with him more.

My buddy Ed was first to introduce brining to me. He's been doing it to Thanksgiving turkeys for years. He enjoys it so much, he'll cook a turkey for his wife's Thanksgiving dinner and cook another one the next day for the two of them. I thought it was a little odd until I started experimenting with brining this summer.

I had my parents and grandmother over for father's day this year. Rory and I had just moved into our new place and it has a backyard where I can grill. So instead of trekking to the south burbs they came up and I cooked. In preperation for this I did some additional reading on grilling trying to think of something different than chicken and ribs. I has always considered myself a good griller, but what brining did to this meat just took it to another level.

I took a couple of chickens and some country pork ribs and threw them in a brine of garlic, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper. The chicken was good, but it was the ribs that were fantastic: moist, delicious and flavorful. I was hooked.

Later in the summer when a couple of other friends came over I brined some center cut pork chops in the same mixture. Again, out of this world.

About a month ago I was in Dominick's and I saw turkey breasts on sale. Following on what Ed had said I bought one and brined it in some crushed pepper corns, bay leaves, brown sugar, thyme and salt. The result was the best turkey I have every had in my life. The flavor and moisture that the brining enables is just difficult to explain if you've never done it before.

Rory and I are doing two Thankgiving this year. The actual day we'll be at her parents and then on Saturday we're going to my folks house. I think I talked my mom into brining the turkey we're having. I know Rory's folks cook their turkeys on the grill but I don't know if they brine, though Rory's dad was talking about doing a turducken along with the turkey, but I haven't heard for certain.

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