The Truth About Brining a Turkey

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt digs into the science of brining a turkey ahead of Thanksgiving to determine the best way to cook your family bird:

I don’t brine my birds because I like my birds to taste like birds, not like watered-down birds. Salting your meat is nearly as effective at preventing moisture loss, and the flavor gains are noticeable. Want to know the truth? Even advanced salting is not a necessary first step. I see it more as a safeguard to overcooking. It provides a little buffer in case you accidentally let that bird sit in the oven an extra 15 minutes. As long as you are very careful about monitoring your bird, there’s no reason to brine or salt it in advance.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions.

Raise your hand if you saw that twist coming? With proper cooking there’s no reason to salt or brine in advance! However, no amount of gravy can hide the disappointment of an overcooked bird and so I would argue that salting it ahead of time should be a necessary precaution given that most cooks on Thanksgiving can be easily distracted by family.

Update: Even better, Lopez-Alt puts together a 50 question FAQ for all your Turkey Day food conundrums.

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