Turkey is a great choice for your holiday meal, but freezing it can make it even better. Freezing turkey allows you to plan ahead so you won’t run out of time when dinnertime comes around. When you freeze brined turkey, however, the results are even more amazing. Brining a turkey allows you to add tons of flavor and moisture by soaking the meat in a saltwater solution for about 12 hours before you cook it.
The result is an incredible piece of poultry that tastes as good as if it were slow-roasted over an open flame or baked in the oven. Here we’ll cover everything from brining to freezing turkey so you don’t miss out on either option next time around.
What is brining? How does it work?
Brining perfectly prepares meats for sandwiches and casseroles, or for grilling or roasting. The brine adds flavor and moisture to the meat, which makes it more tender and juicy. It also makes the meat more flavorful by drawing out juices, locking in flavors, and reducing shrinkage.
This makes it especially useful for stuffing poultry so it’s juicier, tastier, and holds together better when it’s cooked. The process of brining starts by soaking the meat in a solution of salt with water. The salt causes the meat to draw moisture and protein from the surrounding area, which gives the meat a juicier flavor and a more tender texture.
Freezing Turkey: The Basics
Freezing turkey allows you to buy fresh meat and then use it for months or even years after you’ve purchased it. To freeze turkey, you either slice it thinly and freeze it that way, or you can vacuum seal it like you would ground beef and then freeze it.
Frozen turkey is best stored in freezer bags or containers to avoid freezer burn. To thaw the turkey, simply remove the amount you want to use and then refreeze the rest. You can also thaw turkey in the microwave or by placing it in a pot of water.
Brining Turkey: Step by Step
There are a number of steps you can use to brine a turkey. We’ve provided a basic brine recipe below, but you can customize it to your preferred taste. Just remember to let the turkey brine for at least 12 hours before you cook it to allow the flavors to soak in.
– Clean and coat the turkey with an all-purpose seasoning. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before cooking so the seasonings can distribute evenly throughout the meat. We’ll use two tablespoons of standard all-purpose seasoning for brining and one teaspoon of crushed gourmet all-purpose seasoning for roasting.
– Rinse and then pat the turkey dry before you pound it to an even thickness.
– Mix the spices with four cups of water to create a turkey brine solution.
– Place the turkey in the brine solution and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Check it often to make sure it doesn’t over brine.
– Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry before you cook it. Leave the giblets in the cavity so they don’t float around in the gravy.
Should You Freeze Brine-Brined Turkeys?
If you’re brining your turkey, you’ll want to freeze the brined turkey as soon as you finish brining it. Brined turkey will stay fresh for about three to four months if you freeze it properly. However, you should eat brined turkey immediately even if you freeze it because the flavors are best when fresh. If you’re not brining the turkey, you can skip the freezing step and just freeze it.
It will be fine if you thaw it, cook it, and then refreeze it. The turkey will taste fine, but it will get less crisp. The bottom line is that you want to freeze your turkey if you brined it. You can also freeze turkey in raw form if you don’t have time to brine it.
Just make sure you let it thaw completely before you cook it so the juices can redistribute inside the meat evenly. You can also leave out the brine if you’re only going to freeze the turkey. Just make sure you pound it to an even thickness. You can also thaw the turkey in the refrigerator overnight and then refreeze it for later use.
Incorporating Brine Into Your Cooking Technique
You can use the brined turkey in a salad or as a sandwich filling, or you can try it in one of our unique brined turkey recipes. If you don’t want to use the turkey right away, you can always store it in the freezer. You can simply vacuum seal the turkey and store it in freezer bags.
You can also use turkey in place of chicken in any recipe that calls for chicken, pork, or beef. Simply mix the turkey into the recipe and use it as directed. You can also make turkey burgers with this turkey and use them as you would regular burgers. You can also use the giblets to make turkey stock or make turkey soup. The same goes for the turkey neck and feet. The turkey skin makes a great substitute for ham or duck, so don’t let it go to waste.
Benefits of Freezing Brined Turkeys
– Freezing brined turkey is a great option if you’re looking to save money since you don’t need to buy turkey.
– Freezing brined turkey also keeps it fresh longer, so there’s no reason to eat it quickly.
– Freezing turkey is a great option if you have guests coming over because you don’t have to worry about cooking for them.
– Freezing turkey is also a great option if you don’t have a lot of freezer space.
Freezing and thawing your brined turkey is important so you don’t get freezer burn. Whenever you thaw your turkey, make sure to use the thawing method we outlined above so it doesn’t get overcooked. If you want to skip the freezing step, you can also refreeze thawed turkey. It will be just as good as if you’d cooked it from scratch, although it will be a little less crispy.