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Q:Do you recommend brining turkey?
A: The basic process involves soaking meat (usually lean meats, like turkey, chicken, or pork chops) in a tub of heavily salted water overnight. (Most brines are in the five to eight percent salt range by weight.) Over the course of the night, the meat absorbs some of that water. More importantly, that water stays put even after the meat is cooked. By brining meat, you can decrease the total moisture loss by 30 to 40%. Sounds like brining's a good idea, right? Not so fast. Brining will add liquid to your turkey, but it will also dilute the bird's flavor. Using a flavored liquid, like cider or broth, doesn't really help, either—because of an effect called "salting out," salt will selectively move into the bird, while larger flavorful molecules will be excluded. Prolonged salting, also known as dry-brining, is the method I use. When you salt a turkey (or chicken) breast, meat juices are initially drawn out through the process of osmosis. As the salt dissolves in these juices, it forms what amounts to a very concentrated brine, which then allows it to break down muscle proteins. The loosened muscle fibers allow the juices to get reabsorbed, this time taking the salt along for the ride. The turkey ends up as juicy as a traditionally brined bird, but with none of the flavor dilution.

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