Enjoying Brined Turkey


October 08, 2003|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,SUN STAFF

Alan Turner of Owings Mills requested a recipe for Brined Turkey, which he saw in print, but the only thing he can remember is "that 2 gallons of orange juice, cilantro and star anise were used. The turkey was marinated for three to four days before being smoked."

Peter Hutchinson of Salisbury responded with a recipe for a "brine-smoked turkey in orange juice." Hutchinson said, "For the large gatherings, we often roast one stuffed turkey in the oven and smoke another on the grill. The smoked one usually disappears first.

"Note: Whole star anise is not easy to find. Chinese five-spice powder may be a reasonable substitute. A possible container for the turkey in brine is a plastic storage box meant for sweaters or shoes, costing about $3."

Brined Turkey

Serves 10

1 gallon orange juice

2 cups rice-wine vinegar

2 cups apple-cider vinegar

1 cup dark-brown sugar

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup peeled fresh ginger, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2 bunches cilantro, chopped

12 whole star anise or Chinese five-spice powder

2 cinnamon sticks, crushed

2 tablespoons red-pepper flakes

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 cup kosher salt

1 turkey, 12 to 15 pounds, giblets removed

about 2 pounds wood chips (orange, hickory, grapevine cuttings, etc.)

olive oil, to rub on turkey

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Combine all but the last five ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Cool. Thoroughly rinse and dry turkey inside and out.

Place in a large plastic, glass or earthenware container (Playmate cooler!) that is not much wider that the turkey and deep enough so brine will cover the bird completely. Pour in brine. Make sure it covers the turkey.

Cover; refrigerate 3 days. If brine doesn't completely cover the bird, turn bird every 12 hours. About 4 hours before serving, soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry. Truss and place it on a roasting rack. Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Place a drip pan on fire grate of a kettle-type grill. Place 20 or 30 briquettes on either side of the drip pan. Light coals and let burn until well-coated with white ash, about 30 minutes. Place small handfuls of wet wood chips on briquettes. Place turkey in center of grill over drip pan.

Cover kettle with lid. Partially open lid and kettle vents. Try not to remove lid too often, which will lower the temperature, but check every 45 minutes and replenish briquettes and wood chips as needed. If turkey skin gets too dark, cover with foil.

Keep about an inch of water in drip pan at all times. Smoke turkey for 2 1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast reaches 160 degrees to 170 degrees. Transfer to a carving plate and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The biggest problem with this recipe is finding space in your refrigerator for the bird in its brine for several days!

"This sounds like a ton of work -- and it does take a lot of forethought to brine the turkey for several days before you're ready to cook the bird. But it really isn't that much more labor-intensive than roasting a regular bird, and the flavor is incredible!

"Despite the intensity of all the Asian-inspired ingredients, the finished bird is moist and succulent, with a subtle sweet and spicy flavor imparted by the ginger, orange juice and red-pepper flakes. The star anise and cinnamon add just a bit of exotic spice interest, and the salt is not at all overwhelming.

"The color of the finished meat is pinker than with a regular roasted bird, so don't gauge doneness by the color. It would be very hard to do this recipe with a gas grill, as you can't place the turkey far from direct heat as you can by arranging briquettes."

Recipe requests

Teletha Wheatcroft of Merced, Calif., is seeking a "particular barbecue chicken recipe in which the chicken is placed in a baking dish with onions, ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice and more poured on top and baked." Adds Wheatcroft: "I don't remember exact amounts. The recipe was on the front of a cookbook but I don't remember which one."

B. W. Yeago of Knoxville, Tenn., is seeking a recipe for refrigerator rolls.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Names must accompany recipes. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.

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