Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Questions Answered

In yesterday’s Blog about the Deep Fried Turkey, I mentioned that I was a little disappointed with the amount of salt and the streaks or layers of marinade. Having looked on the Internet and not finding many answers or suggestions, I decided to write to the author of White Trash BBQ. I’ve been reading his Blog for some time now and hoped that he would be able to shed some light on my problems with the turkey. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for answering my questions. Below is my letter and then Rob’s answers.

Rob mentioned that I need to be careful not to purchase and "enhanced" turkey, one that has already been injected with salt and other ingredients. I am not certain if the turkey we used was "enhanced". If it was that certainly may have been part of the issue.

My Letter:

If I may, I would like to ask you a couple of questions about marinating a turkey.

This past weekend my sons came and we used Emeril’s Fried Turkey Marinade on the first turkey I've ever deep-fried. Even with cutting the recipe in half because we only did one 12 pound turkey, we all thought the turkey was too salty. When we carved the turkey, we noticed that wherever we injected the marinade there was a layer or streak of the marinade.

Why do so many marinade recipes use so much salt? Could I reduce the amount of salt or replace it with some other spice? Would it work to marinate the turkey overnight in liquid marinade instead of using an injector? Or would that introduce too much liquid into the bird making it dangerous to deep fry?

I have many more questions, however these are the ones I am most interesting in having answered.

Thanking you in advance,

Rob’s Answer:

Hey UP,

I'm no expert on fried turkeys. I've done a few, but I much prefer smoked birds.

I read over the Emeril recipe and I'd say that it calls for way too much salt. A cup of salt is more suited to a gallon of liquid, not the 12oz that recipe called for. A least to me. I probably don't use as much salt as I should.

In brining, and I guess in marinating, the bird swaps out the water in the meat with the liquids in the brine/marinate. What the salt brings to the party, besides flavor, is a vehicle to get the bird to release it's water. The liquid in the brine has a salt level that is higher than that of the bird. The liquids released by the bird trys to equalize the salt levels between the two, so salt and the flavors of the brine/marinade enter the meat flavoring and tenderizing it. I hope that makes sense.

On turkeys, you have to be careful that you don't add salt to an already "enhanced" bird. Butterball, Norbest etc, all sell primarily a bird that has already been injected with salt and various fats. You should seek out natural birds that have not been enhanced whenever you plan to use a marinade or brine.

As for the streaks you saw, that's just inexperience with the injecting needle. You must constantly move it around the meat while releasing the marinate. It takes practice.

As for marinating and not injecting - marinating doesn't penetrate the meat as deeply as marinating. You could brine your bird, which I like to do. Here's a pretty good brine...

Apple Brine for Turkey:

2 quarts apple juice
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
3 quarts cold water
3 oranges, quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Substitute 3/4 cup Morton Kosher Salt or 1/2 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.

Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve. Boil for one minute, remove from heat, let mixture come to room temperature, then refrigerate to 40°F.

In a large non-reactive container, combine the apple juice mixture with the remaining ingredients. When adding the oranges, squeeze each piece to release the juice into the container, and then drop in the peel.

Before cooking, remove the bird from the brine, wash it thoroughly and dry before using.

I hope this helps,



Blogger Me said...

What a nice reply!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 2:42:00 PM PDT  

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