How to Add Flavor To Your Turkey
There are many ways to cook the perfect turkey from smoking to roasting or even baking and frying. There are also many different ways to add flavor to your turkey and in this blog post, we’re giving an explanation of each for you to make the decision for yourself.
The wet brine is one of the most popular ways that people go about adding both flavor and moisture to their bird. This method involves submerging your turkey into a large container of water and a generous amount of kosher salt mixed with your choice of other additions like bay leaves, sugar, seasonings and herbs.
You then must refrigerate this mixture for several hours through overnight. It penetrates the meat and skin allowing the turkey to absorb it and retain it throughout the cook producing a succulent and flavorful final product.
A lot of people opt to brine their bird in a large five gallon bucket from their favorite hardware store. Put the brine and the bird in a large plastic bag and place the sealed bag in the bucket and top the bucket with ice and water. Keep the bucket in a cool place or place in a cooler surrounded by ice. Make sure to dry the bird thoroughly after removing from the brine. That's the key to crispy skin.
A dry brine is similar to a wet brine, although as the name suggests, it does not involve using any additional water. The process of dry brining can be used for smoking, although many people use it for great roast chicken to get the end result nice and crispy. To dry brine, you first must ensure the exterior of the turkey is as dry as possible before applying a generous amount of kosher salt and other desired seasonings and herbs to the meat and skin.
Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight before cooking. This process will draw out the turkey’s natural juices and mix with the salt and seasonings before the turkey reabsorbs them. The salt begins to break down tough muscle fibers and penetrates the meat for tender, delicious meat.
Directly injecting liquid like butter, ghee, juice, wine or even liquor will immediately add flavor and moisture to your bird. It’s much faster than brining as you can inject right before cooking and it’s as simple as loading the marinade injector and sticking it into multiple parts of the meat. Although larger coarse spices cannot be injected as they may clog the injector, there are many liquid options to deliver some serious flavor to your turkey.
One of our favorite injections is butter infused with rosemary and sage. All you have to do is melt the butter down in a saucepan on the stove and place a few stems of rosemary and sage into the hot butter. Do NOT cut up the herbs. Turn off the burner and stir occasionally. Remove the herbs from the butter and allow the butter to cool down. Inject the butter into the turkey at the breast, thighs and legs.
Pick up your very own marinade injector here!
Aromatics into Turkey Cavity
Adding aromatics to the turkey’s cavity is another subtle way to add flavor and richness to the turkey and its juices. Simply stuff the cavity of the turkey prior to cooking and let the magic happen. They aren’t meant to be eaten, but simply impart flavors and fragrance. Some options for aromatics include onion, garlic, apples or citrus fruits, celery, seasonings, herbs, beer and Coca-Cola. There are many alternatives and combinations to pull off the flavor best suited for you.
Smoking your turkey is another great way to infuse it with flavor. We recommend wet brining or injecting your turkey with butter before smoking to ensure that the meat stays juicy and tender. Apple wood and pecan wood are favorite for smoking, but traditional oak is a great stand by. Consider mixing in some mesquite if you really want a deep, smokey flavor.
What's your favorite way to flavor your turkey? Drop it in the comments!