BRINE o' CLOCK
It's Christmas Eve Eve and right now we should all be getting ready to do one thing to our Christmas lunch...
Recently at Peardrop we've discovered the joys of brining turkey and chicken. The results are truly epic and when you realise how easy it is, you'll wonder what the hell you've been up to every Christmas past!!
Brining is akin to marinating, but probably even easier. You make up a mixture of salt & water (and other spices and flavourings) and soak the raw meat overnight, or longer, before cooking.
Basically it's to do with osmosis. By soaking your meat in a solution of salt, water and sugar, the cells in the meat absorb and retain water molecules preventing dehydration. Then the salt in the water breaks down the proteins in the meat and relaxes them, giving you the JUICIEST, TENDEREST ROAST EVER.
The best cuts of meat to brine are the dryer and leaner: the ones with the least amount of fat to juicify them up during cooking. Chicken, turkey, prawns, pork chops for example. Turkey, of course, is the ultimate brinee - last Christmas I vowed never again to endure chewy, dry mouthfuls of a bird that basically died in vain.
Try and brine your meat in the fridge, granted most turkeys won't fit in the fridge ... but leave it outside in the cold instead.
Here's our simple recipe for a turkey brine. We implore you to try it - you won't look back!
2 litres water
1/2 cup salt
8 tbsp brown sugar
2 lemons - juice and zest peelings
1 tangerine, juice and zest peelings
2 oranges - juice and zest peelings
3 coves garlic - whole
2 chillies, split in 2 and roughly chopped
Bunch of rosemary
Bunch of thyme
Bunch of sage
2 tbsp black peppercorns
5 star anise
1 tbsp cinammon
1 tbsp cloves
This won't make a massive amount of brine, it would be about right for a roast chicken. You'll need to multiply it so that it covers your whole bird.
Dissolve the salt and sugar in cold water, add the other ingredients and give it a stir.
Put your bird and the brining liquid in the biggest bin, bucket or pan you have and make sure it's well covered.
Leave for a minimum of 12 hours, even as much as 24 if your turkey is biggie.
Remove for two hours before cooking, let it come to room temperature and pat the skin dry. Roast in your usual way.