Brining a frozen turkey?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rabbitman, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. How should I go about this? I have a couple (12-14 lb.) turkeys in my deep freezer. I want to brine one before smoking. Does anyone have any experience doing this (brining a frozen bird)?  I have a big enough cooler that I can keep the brining bird in a bag and cover with chunk ice that I freeze in various water filled containers. I rarely have to buy ice. How long can I brine or should I brine without worry of it being too salty? I plan to use the slaughterhouse brine recipe. I know it takes a frozen turkey a couple of days to fully thaw in the fridge. Should I thaw it or partially thaw the bird before brining?  What target should I shoot for as far as length of time (thaw or not thaw) to serving after smoking? Say I take it out today and start process when can I serve it? Thanks
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I would thaw it first then into the brine for 24 hours then smoke it then eat!
  3. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

    I second that . They seem to take forever to thaw , at least in my fridge they do . I will also mention I did one once where after I thawed it I just put it in my smoker , no brining , seasoning etc. I cooked it just the same way I cooked one about a month before that I did brine and brining is the way to go . I injected one once but it seemed to me the meat at the point of injection was a different texture than the meat that really didn't get any of the injection juice . After the brine no brine experiment I told myself from here on out I'm brining poultry products . I just think it makes for a better finished product .
  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I totally agree that you need to thaw it first.  
  5. austinl

    austinl Smoking Fanatic

    Also agree you should at least mostly thaw it in your fridge first.  If you remember the standard ratios for your brine it won't be too salty.  If you use a dry seasoning mix be aware of its salt content as well.  I agree with spif up there; brining is the only way to go if you want flavor deep and even throughout the meat.  A standard brine is for every 1 gallon of water: 1 cup sugar and 1 cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup table salt) plus whatever you want to flavor it with, the possibilities are endless.  Brine for 24 hours in the fridge (I use a nsf food-grade 5-gallon bucket) and be pretty liberal with your flavorings because your final cooked product will be much milder.
  6. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    It will not take any brine If It's frozen... thaw it first
  7. Thanks for the tips. I plan to use the basic slaughterhouse brine recipe with maybe an added ingredient of spices or herbs. I look forward to this brining adventure. I have one of the Home Depot buckets, but I have been advised to get a food grade bucket or brining bags. Thanks again.
  8. or or hear me out before you kick me out the door. on tripple d, they had a bbq episode. one of the gentlemen took a mostly frozen bird , rubbed it really really good and put that on the smoker. guy even asked are you going to brine it, and the guy no need if you know what your doing. so i have thought about doing this but i dont have anymore turkies.
  9. Well, "After further review!"..."The call on the play has been reversed!" It seems that said birds have been processed with 8% solution, so I guess the brining part is out. It would most likely be too salty don't you think? I was looking forward to this.
  10. Could you lower the salt content in the brine? I have no idea, hopefully someone with the expertise and knowledge will give an answer!
  11. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I brined a turkey last T-day and it was the same, 8% solution and it was not salty at all. It was the first time I had smoked a turkey and was the juiciest tastiest bird I had ever had!
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I brine Turkeys that are enhanced as well but I only use 1/2C Morton Kosher Salt per Gallon. They have always been great and not salty at all...JJ
  13. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    X2 on this 
  14. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I am not a brine expert, nor do I pretend to be. So the ratios are up to you and how you want to adjust.

    However if you try to marinade or brine a frozen piece of meat you will get little or no added value from it. It would be like mixing kool aid with a frozen block of ice. Out side will get the flavor, but the center will not. Thaw it first, then brine or inject it.

    Now the food safety side. Yes you can cook meat from a frozen state and get good results. However why do it if you can cook from a thawed state and get some added flavor profiles going. You are still wanting to get through the temperature danger zone (40-140) as fast as possible. So starting at below 32 is going to just take you that much longer. You are going to need to get 165 or above and by the time you get the thicker parts to 165 you run the chance of over cooking some of the other areas.

    If you need to thaw it faster put it in your clean bucket with cold running water. Does not need to be fast just a slow steady stream. The best is in the fridge over a couple days. As said earlier you can cook from a frozen state, but once you start cooking it from frozen you can not stop the process. You need to cook it all the way.

    If you are looking for food safe buckets. Check with some of your local large hotels or catering locations. Some places get already peeled potatoes and most come in 4 gallon buckets. Most places just throw them away. Worth a shot. If you lived closer I would give you some of mine.

  15. rowdyrawhide

    rowdyrawhide Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    So far the only turkey's I have done have been enhanced and I still use tips slaughterhouse brine as it is posted here minus the celery seed.  They have all turned out fantastic.  I usually try to thaw first but I have put a couple of what I'll call 60-70% thawed in brine for 72 hours, and they turned out great as well.  

    As stated before,  once you brine, you won't cook your poultry any other way.
  16. I switched to dry-brining long ago because water-logged wet brined poultry can sometimes have a funky texture.
    It's also much less mess and fuss as well as being easier to achieve crispy skin when dry brining.
    Just 1% salt and 1/2 a % sugar plus any other crap you want to add. I guarantee it won't be too salty.
    Brine for 3-4 days to allow the seasoning to fully flavor the meat throughout.

    DO NOT use the cold water method of thawing if you intend to brine the bird, cold water thawed meat needs to be cooked immediately.
    Thaw safely in the fridge.

    I forgot to add: You can brine a frozen bird as it defrosts, although it's better to wait until it's thawed, I've done it countless times.
    Leave it in the fridge for a couple days past thawing so that it's seasoned throughout.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  17. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  18. Ok, great news!!! I was getting disappointed about not being able to brine. Thank you guys for the heads up. Thank you, Jeramy. I certainl appreciate the offer on the buckets. I will check and see what I can find. Martin, I plan to thaw in fridge before beginning the brining process. I am in no hurry. Good things take time. I am curious about the dry brining process you mentioned, Martin. Do you have any recipes you would care to share for poultry? I have read about being liberal with herbs and spices to get a more fully flavored end product. Thank you all for the help and tips, I appreciate your advice.
  19. Thanks for the link, Jeramy.
  20. FWIW.....

    Safe Thawing Guidelines Differ for Consumers vs. Food Service Industry

    "When thawing in cold water, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag, submerge in cold tap water, change the water every 30 minutes, and cook immediately after thawing."

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012

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