Hormel experts offering a leg up for Thanksgiving

Company advising ways to keep holiday turkeys flavorful

Turkey is an unquestioned staple of the Thanksgiving holiday in America, but from a cooking standpoint, it's an easy thing to get wrong. Dryness and blandness are two of the most common maladies to be mindful of when preparing a turkey. Thankfully, a good brine can help prevent both.

The culinary experts at Hormel Foods are unveiling a pair of unique, savory brine recipes—one wet and one dry—to help consumers deliver a moist, flavorful bird to the dinner table this holiday season. Chef Barry Greenberg, culinary team lead at Hormel Foods, developed these two original brine concepts for consumers to consider: a char siu wet brine and a rosemary garlic and citrus dry brine.

"Based on the structure and the protein, turkey can be very unforgiving if you don't know what you're doing, because there's just no fat there to help keep the meat from drying out," Greenberg said. "So, you have a very narrow margin of getting it right. Brining or marinating definitely swings the odds in your favor a little bit more."

Whether dry or wet, a good brine is all about salt, which keeps the meat tender during the cooking process and allows it to absorb more water and reduce the amount of liquid that is lost. With that in mind, try these original brining techniques from Hormel Foods for a fresh culinary approach to a holiday classic.

Char Siu wet brine

Greenberg's wet-brine recipe incorporates an Asian flavor profile that is rapidly growing in popularity: char siu. A Cantonese barbecue concept typically reserved for pork dishes, char siu can be a tantalizing option for turkeys, too. Greenberg is encouraging consumers to apply the familiar flavor of a sweet barbecue sauce in a new and exciting, culturally inspired way.

"Char siu is always on my mind because it's such a familiar flavor, and I thought it'd be great in turkey preparation, too," Greenberg said. "It looks cool, and it seems like it's everywhere right now. I think things like gochujang and Sriracha are starting to go away a little bit, but char siu is starting to fill that void. I really like that flavor just because it's familiar but still a little bit different."

After mixing all brine ingredients together, rub thoroughly onto a Jennie-O Tender & Juicy Young Turkey Breast, place it in a large zip-top bag and let marinate in a refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours before roasting.

Rosemary garlic and citrus dry brine

This recipe offers a Mediterranean twist on turkey. While containing more classic ingredients like garlic and rosemary, Greenberg also calls for the zest and juice of two lemons and two oranges.

"You're not really counting on the citrus to carry sweetness. You're counting on it more to carry like a fruitiness and floral notes," Greenberg said. "When you roast garlic, when you fry rosemary, it's a powerful and strong combination, but it can also be flat. But the citrus element brightens it up some to give it bit of a Mediterranean feel."

After preparing the garlic and rosemary, combine them with the citrus elements as well as salt, sugar and pepper before applying the mixture to a Jennie-O Fresh All Natural Young Turkey. Another chef tip from Greenberg: use leftover rosemary-infused oil in your roux to thicken your turkey gravy.

Try both

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for consumers to venture beyond their typical turkey plan, especially if they're expecting guests. But there's an easy solution to that.

"When I was cooking for family, a number of times we'd have two small birds as opposed to one big bird," Greenberg said. "One would be pretty traditional, and the other would probably be smoked or something a little different. My suggestion would be, if you're having a big crowd, try two different flavors. How often do you really cook a whole turkey? Maybe it's just during the holiday season that you even have the time to do something like that. Why not branch out and try something a little different than the traditional?"

For more recipes from Hormel Foods and its family of brands, visit hormelfoods.com/recipes. For Jennie-O product information, additional recipes and where to buy, visit jennieo.com.

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