A well-flavored turkey meal is always one to remember, and the secret to making it often lies in how carefully it is prepared with spices, salt, and other condiments. However, in the case of a butterball turkey, it comes with a prepackaged reminder that states that it had already been treated with an 8% brine solution which contains salt, spices, and water.
And that begs the question, should you still go ahead to brine a Butterball turkey or you just skip the brining part and go on with the rest of the cooking preparations. The answers to these questions are noted in the sub-sections below.
Should You Brine A Butterball Turkey? Is It Really Necessary?
No, it isn’t really necessary to brine a butterball turkey. This is because it has been pre-brined before it was packaged for sale and making an additional brine might just cause you to end up with a salty turkey feast. If you still want to go ahead with brining your turkey despite this, it is advisable to cut down to half the amount of salt and spices you wish to add to your brining solution.
What Happens If You Brine A Butterball Turkey?
When you brine a butterball turkey, you inject it with additional flavor apart from what it has been prepared with beforehand, however, the key here is knowing how to balance these brining solutions so it does not overwhelm the meat. When you brine a Butterball turkey in the right way, you end up with moist and tender meat that is packed with flavor.
Should You Brine A Store-Bought Frozen Turkey?
Yes, you should brine a store-bought frozen turkey, if it is not already pre-brined i.e., treated with a brine solution before. Most store-bought frozen turkeys are pre-brined with varying degrees of a brining solution, while others are not, to detect the ones that have been not been brined at all, check the ingredients list, store-bought turkeys that are not brined only have ‘turkey’ listed in their ingredients.
While brining a pre-brined turkey is not entirely necessary, if you’re not comfortable with just the pre-packaged brine that comes with the turkey, you can go ahead to brine your turkey the way you want but with a less salty solution than usual.
Are Butterball Turkeys Injected with Butter?
No, Butterball turkeys are not injected with butter. The name butterball is just associated with the brand and no actual butter is injected into a butterball turkey, instead, a brine mix is introduced into it to preserve the turkey shelf life and also increase the flavor.
How Do You Know If Turkey Is Pre-Brined?
To know if the turkey you wish to use is pre-brined, check the contents of the turkey, if it is pre-brined, it is always indicated with words like basted, enhanced, kosher, or pre-basted.
Turkey brands that are also pre-brined indicate the percentage of their signature brine solution that was injected into the turkey, for a Butterball turkey, it is in the 8% range, for Shady brooks farm turkeys, 9.5% of their brine mix is injected. These percentages vary according to the brand you purchase and it is always clearly listed on the packaging of the bird.
How to Brine A Butterball Turkey Step-By-Step?
The first thing to do is to choose a suitable brine that would not make the meat turn out too salty, then you have to thaw the frozen chicken completely, once that is done before you proceed to immerse the turkey in the brine, remove the giblets, which consist of the turkey’s liver, gizzard, heart, and other internal organs, the turkey’s neck is also removed.
After these processes are carried out, the next thing is to make the brine mixture, the ingredients for this include:
- 1 gallon of water at room temperature
- 1 gallon of ice water
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt or 4 teaspoons of table salt
- 6 crushed garlic cloves
- 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley
- 4 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 (12- 15 pound) butterball turkey
- 8 bay leaves
- 1 big onion, sliced
The brine is prepared in the following steps
Pour the gallon of the water at room temperature in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add other ingredients (garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, salt) and allow it to cook for 5 minutes, the ice water should not be added to this mixture.
Add some amount of the ice water to a pan big enough to hold the turkey, pour in the already cooked brine mixture (this should be more than the ice water), mix thoroughly.
Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the mixture, it should be up to 40oF and if it isn’t, you can pop the mixture into the fridge to freeze or add some ice cubes to reduce the temperature.
Place the prepared turkey with its breast side facing down into the saucepan, the liquid should cover the turkey completely for the best results. Cover the saucepan and put it into the refrigerator for some time according to the weight of the turkey.
When you’re ready to begin to cook the turkey, bring it out of the brine mixture and dry it with paper towels, you can then proceed to either grill or roast it
How Long to Brine A Butterball Turkey?
We recommend brining your turkey for 45-60 minutes per pound. Now, following this method, if your turkey weighs
- 12 pounds – 9-12 hours (recommended time)
- 14 pounds – 101/2 -14 hours (recommended time)
- 20 pounds – 15-20 hours (recommended time)
While a butterball turkey doesn’t need to be brined, spicing it up with your homemade brine will not hurt a bit if you make the necessary adjustments. In addition to cutting back on the salt when you make your brine, ensure that your gravy and stuffing are prepared with fewer spices than usual.
Note that when you choose to brine a butterball turkey, it is always about balance.