Brining. That is the hottest new trend in cooking. What is brining? Brining is the soaking of a piece of meat in salted water with spices. Everywhere I went on the Internet prior to Thanksgiving, all the websites about cooking were abuzz with “brining a turkey.”
Well I had a turkey that had been in my freezer since last Christmas. It was time to cook it, so I tried the brining method (recipe follows). I heated all the ingredients in a stockpot until the salt and sugar were incorporated into the water. I then allowed the ingredients to cool to room temperature, poured the brine mix into a 5 gallon bucket, added the turkey and enough water to cover it.
I placed the turkey in the fridge and let it brine for 12 hours. Then I rinsed it off well, and let the turkey “dry out” in the fridge for another 12 hours. According to another website, that would allow the skin to crisp up and not be soggy. Thanksgiving morning, I stuffed the bird, and put it in the oven to cook. Five hours later, my turkey was done, and I had dinner on the table by 4 p.m.
When I carved the white meat, it looked a little whiter than usual but didn’t appear to be any different than the turkeys I had cooked in the past. But when I tasted it, the meat was moist and tender. Not the normal dry bird I would have expected. And I guess my children would agree, since for the first time in a long time, the entire turkey was eaten up by Sunday.
I noticed that the City of Chicago offered a different beginning to the holiday season. For many people, after enjoying a hardy Thanksgiving Day dinner, they awoke early to go Christmas shopping only to find the boot people had been out bright and early. Yup! To start off the holiday season, the city booted a ton of cars in my neighborhood. For a brief second, I thought maybe it was a new yellow form of Christmas street decoration. But that it wasn’t.
I recently had the opportunity to pick up a leaflet about when your car gets booted. And no, I didn’t get a boot on my car. If your car is booted, the first thing the city wants is for you to pay 50 percent of the amount you owe, along with the booting fees, etc. Now the city does have a Hardship Plan for some folks. That only requires you to pay 25 percent of the ticket amount before you start a payment plan.
I just wonder how many of you know which of these situations allow you to get out of paying the booting costs and parking fees? Does Government Issued Unemployment Compensation; Low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP); Federal Public Housing/Section 8: Food Stamps; Students (high school, college, trade or vocational); seniors (65 and older); Medicaid or SSI excuse you from paying the parking tickets or booting costs? Well don’t stress too long. The answer is “none of the above.” Our city is so vindictive it doesn’t care what your situation is. They want you to pay parking tickets.
I recently had a chance to speak with my candidate for mayor, Bill Dock Walls, and ask him about the boot program. He says under his administration if the city can’t get you to pay your parking tickets in two years, he’ll have the tickets dismissed. Now I like the sound of that. But what I didn’t ask him was what methods the city would use to make sure you payed those tickets within two years of getting issued. But at least your car won’t be booted under his administration for tickets issued 5-6 years ago. Nothing can be worse than getting a boot on your new car for the tickets on the old beater you junked five years ago.
I did have a chance to speak with a woman whose garage faces Wal-Mart. I asked her how the traffic was over there the day after Thanksgiving. She said it was ridiculous! It took her a half hour to get her car out of the garage and through the alley. She told me people were parking their cars in the alley to go into Wal-Mart. She has been ill and is totally frustrated at what is happening. Let’s just hope that as Christmas nears, an ambulance or a firetruck won’t be one of the vehicles delayed for half an hour as well.
As always, the conference call will be Monday night at 9 p.m. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. For cellphone users, this is just like a local call using your nighttime minutes.
Here’s the brining recipe:
1 cup Kosher Salt
cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
6-8 bay leaves
2 oranges, quartered-squeeze juice into brine and leave orange quarters in as well
2 lemons, quartered-squeeze juice into brine and leave lemon quarters in as well
Ice cold water to cover turkey-approximately 2 gallons for a 14-16 pound turkey, add as needed to completely submerge, but make sure you mix well before adding turkey
NOTE: If you have a big turkey and need more brine, use cup Kosher salt and cup brown sugar for every gallon of water you need to add.
1) Remove giblets and rinse turkey inside and out in cold water
2) In a very large, clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot, stainless steel, glass or a 5-gallon plastic bucket), mix salt and cold water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and spices and other ingredients, mix well until sugar dissolves.
3) Totally submerge turkey in solution and store covered in refrigerator for at least 8-10 hours-I prefer 24 hours if I have the time. Place a large, heavy plate on turkey to keep totally submerged. Turn turkey once during the brining process. If the weather is cool, you can skip the refrigerator-the salts will keep it from ruining.
4) Remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Thoroughly rinse turkey inside and out in cold water, rubbing gently to release salt. Pat skin and interior dry.
5) Roast or deep fry as desired.