With Thanksgiving on the horizon, a lunch conversation with colleagues yesterday turned to a discussion of turkey preparation methods: to brine or not to brine, how to ensure even cooking of dark meat and white meat, to stuff or not to stuff, can I deep fry my turkey without burning down my garage? Great topics for debate, because it seems that each person (if they’re involved in preparation of the dinner at all) has some theory or tradition or recipe that they’re partial to. “Well, my Mom does it this way,” or “we never do that,” or “we tried that one year, and never again…” etc, etc.
As the topic of brining came up — and that does seem to be a hot topic in the food world; yes, the blogs are abuzz with brines this week — I mentioned a recent post by Bob DelGrosso at A Hunger Artist, where Bob gives his reasons for why he prefers a dry rub to a brine. I enjoy reading his blog because he has a ton of experience, he’s clear in how he explains the science of cooking, and he balances all that with practical knowledge about how the thing tastes, which is the point after all, isn’t it?
So here is a sampling of cooking science and opinion to help you solidify your plan as you head towards turkey day:
In favor of brining (Alton Brown), a technique and recipe that many people swear by: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html
With reservations on bringing — a “nuanced discussion,” in which he clarifies the science of brining, and the benefits of a dry rub (Bob DelGrosso, former chef instructor at C.I.A.): http://ahungerartist.bobdelgrosso.com/2010/11/brining-nuanced-view.html
On cooking the turkey in parts, home sous vide style (Grant Achatz): http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/11/in-videos-cooking-thanksgiving-sous-vide-turkey-with-grant-achatz-alinea.html
On gravy and turkey stock (Michael Ruhlman): http://ruhlman.com/2010/11/how-to-make-thanksgiving-gravy-it-starts-with-easy-turkey-stock.html
And for one stop shopping and reliable food science and taste testing posts, the Serious Eats Food Lab: Thanksgiving Special: Turkey 101.
So many options, and only one turkey…
Image: photo by en:User:Lupin via Wikimedia Commons