To brine or not to brine: The big question
Brining is extremely popular for roast turkeys in the USA, where most people will swear that brining is an essential part of the preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. The point in brining is to allow the turkey to soak up more moisture and flavour before it goes into the oven.
How to brine a turkey
You can make a simple brine for 5 to 8kg turkey with the following ingredients:

3L vegetable stock
1L ice water
275g sea salt
1 tbsp crushed dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp dried thyme

Mix the vegetable stock, sea salt, thyme, safe and rosemary. Bring the ingredients to the boil and stir gently to ensure that the salt dissolves in the solutions. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Then pour it into a good sized, clean bucket and stir in the ice water.
Then, having removed its innards, place it face down in the bucket, which you then store in the refrigerator overnight. Pat it dry, and the turkey is ready to cook.
How it works
The way brining works is undeniably cool. It uses the power of osmosis, a natural phenomenon whereby substances dissolved in water naturally even out any imbalances. Think of it as a seesaw with a pile of salt at one end. The end with the salt on it is the brine, the end that’s up in the air is the turkey. Through osmosis the salt naturally evens out along the seesaw, making the meat drier and saltier.

Where it gets really cool though is where the salt physically changes the meat. Sodium in the salt attaches to the muscle proteins, causing them to push apart from each other and making room for more water.
The end result is that the turkey retains more moisture and more salt.
The case against brining
While brining has its passionate advocates, there are those who argue that brining is a crime against a delicious roast turkey. While they concede that brining a turkey helps it retain moisture and adds flavour, they believe these prizes come at too high a cost.

Firstly, by making the turkey saltier you rule out one of the great pleasures of eating a roast turkey – covering it in gravy. A brined turkey combined with a decent gravy just becomes too salty to eat.

Another problem chefs who brine face is that the whole turkey retains water, including the skin. This makes it nearly impossible to get that lovely browned, crispy skin that really makes a roast dinner.


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To brine or not to brine: The big question