We recommend dry brining your organic pasture raised Turkey for the best results.
The Science of Dry Brining
Dry brining is some sort of culinary alchemy, taking flavors deep into the meat in a most mysterious manner. By coating the outside of a cut with a mixture of salt, herbs, and spices, a set of beneficial reactions ensues.
First, the salt pulls moisture out of the meat! Yes, out.
This may seem like a bad thing at first, butt a certain point, the meat then begins to pull this moisture back in, along with the salt and spice mixture. This pull-push of moisture allows the salt and spices to move deeply into the meat. It also changes the meat’s structure, tightly binding the moisture in its folds and improving the texture.
Benefits of Dry Brined Meat
There are four main benefits of dry brining meat versus the more typical practice of wet brining. They include:
– Much shorter cooking time with reductions by as much as 1/3 – Increased resistance to accidental overcooking (meat holds onto its moisture better) – Superior flavor penetration, since the salt carries herbs and spices deep into the meat – Succulent meat texture, no rubbery or watery portions which can sometimes occur with wet brining.
Complete Dry Brining Guide
Here’s how long you’ll need to dry brine various cuts of meat prior to cooking.
Smaller cuts: 1/2-2 1/2 pounds (steaks, roasts, breasts) – 12-24 hours Medium cuts – three to eight pounds (whole chickens, large roasts) – 24-36 hours Large cuts – Greater than eight pounds- 48-72 hours
Also consider that cut shape matters a lot when dry brining. A longer, wider, but thinner cut will take less time than a rounder, bulkier, more compact cut. So a chuck roast needs less time than an equally sized rump roast. A spatchcocked chicken or turkey will take less time than a whole chicken or turkey. Adjust your brining time accordingly.
Another important note: you will do little harm going longer with your dry brine. The rules above are minimums to help ensure success. If a cut sits an extra day or so, it has never in our experience negatively impacted the meat or meal in any way. As long as you used sufficient salt, herbs, and spices, and the cut was not already older, it should also keep the meat safer than if it was sitting solo.
5 lbs (2.27 kilos) meat preferably pastured and organic
1 Tbl coarse sea salt
1/2 Tbl of "Chairman of the Bird" herb rub by Madison Park Foods, we currently carry in our store
Pat meat dry with paper towel.
Thoroughly rub down/coat with brining mixture.
Place into a large bag (sources) and seal.
Every 12 hours rub meat down through the bag.
Dry brine chicken and roasts for 24-36 hours, steaks and smaller cuts for 24 hours, and turkey for 48-72 hours.
Adjust sea salt and herb mix used depending on how much meat you will be using: ¼-½ tsp of coarse sea salt and ⅛-¼ tsp of herbs/spices for each pound (.45 kilo) of meat
Dried sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram are great herbs to use (organic if possible as non-organic spices are frequently irradiated).
Herbs de Provence is a simple mix to use for dry brining that is delicious. We also love the Thai organic seasoning blend from Frontier, though it is one among many organic seasoning blends you can try and use instead of making your own.
Since the amount of salt and herbs is somewhat up to preference, I encourage people to try out dry brining on some chickens a few weeks before Thanksgiving or Christmas to see what they like best.
Three Reasons to Dry Brine
Still not convinced to try it and wanting to stick with tried and true wet brine? Here’s a summary of the three big reasons to give it a chance this year.
Takes turkey prep out of the craziness of the big day due to significantly shorter cooking time.
Removes the danger and potential mess of having a massive, incredibly heavy pot of sloshing water in your fridge. Might even save your back from going out!
Results in a more evenly and thoroughly flavored bird, with improved moisture and texture.
Dry Brining: Three Things to Watch Out For
While a much easier process overall, there are a few things to watch out for when you dry brine. Here’s a quick summary of the caveats mentioned earlier.
Dry brining reduces cooking time so watch the meat carefully.
Don’t get a kosher (pre-salted) or pre-seasoned and salted turkey. You want a truly au-natural bird.
Meatier spots need more dry brine, breasts especially
Sourced from: The Healthy Home Economist