Hunting season and Thanksgiving are just around the corner in the U.S. Millions of home cooks will be creating fabulous dinners. The star of the meal will likely be a plump bird with all the trimmings to complement it.
Some people may struggle when it comes to cooking a tender bird. Here's a technique that will help: brine. The best way to achieve a moist and tender bird hot out of the oven is to take some careful steps in preparation. Any bird – turkey, pheasant, game hens, quail, grouse or chicken (to name a few) will benefit from this technique, no matter how it’s cooked. You can brine poultry as a whole bird or in pieces.
Brining doesn’t have to happen only on special occasions. While it’s best for the bird to soak overnight, you can brine for three or four hours. Fill a stock pot full of water and brine spice mixture, stir well. (The best ratio is 4 cups of water for every 4 teaspoons of spice.) Boil for ten minutes and remove from heat. Cool completely and chill until cold. Pour chilled mixture into tub (with a lid) large enough to submerge your bird (or its parts). Add thawed and cleaned bird, cover, and allow to brine overnight, or up to 24 hours.
You can also dry brine by using spice mixture as a rub before cooking. Use reserved dry mix to rub onto and under skin of bird just before cooking. Another tip for a moist bird is to cook it breast-side down.