Turkey - To Brine or Not to Brine a Frozen Turkey? That is the Question!

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Dec 23, 2012
Portland, Oregon
I've got a 10.lb "Natural Free Range" Turkey that is thawing in the fridge right now.  

We've never bought a frozen turkey, but had to this year. The wrapper states, "May

contain up to 6% Retained Water, contains no artificial ingredients, no preservatives,

only minimally processed.

On the Nutrition Label it states: 4oz of meat has 75mg (3% daily req) sodium.

Does this sound like they've brined it for moisture?  If that 6% means they have brined

it a bit, will it harm or enhance the meat if I brine it for 8 hours or so?

Any suggestions are appreciated, Thanks.

BTW - I am going to cook this bird in our oven this year, not my smoker. Does that

change the brine vs no brine equation? 
My Butterball contains 8% solution of salt and spices, states 200mg of sodium in a 4oz serving.  Your turkey doesn't sound brined.  I would brine it.  

I would also brine it.  Some data: 4oz of turkey itself has 55mg sodium, same amount of deli turkey is typically over 1,000mg.  So your pump has little salt.  The percentage thing is what throws everyone.  It's not a percentage of sodium or salt, it's weight.  Most of the pump is water.  I am a big fan of still brining or otherwise adding more salt to "pumped birds" and I am not addicted to salt.  My wife's favorite bird is Honeysuckle and it's well pumped bird "15%" but sodium is only 200mg though.  I am still injecting and brining.  I prefer non-smoked bird for my Thanksgiving dinner myself so that doesn't change things since you're not smoking. 
You could go either route with it. If you are looking to enhance the flavor, brine it. Once a gain a properly cooked bird will not be dry. Overcooking is a killer. Pull that bird when the IT hits 165 in the breast.

Personally I would dry brine it instead of wet brining. I would also spatchcock the bird. It will allow the bird to cook evenly. We do this for all of our oven roasted turkeys. 4 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon  baking powder (bigger birds would require more salt and baking powder) and what ever other seasonings (white pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme) you like. rub inside and out. Place on drying rack uncovered and let air dry in the fridge a minimum of 8 hours, preferably 12-24. Then roast. When your IT hits 165° pull the bird and let rest 30-45 minutes. You will end up with a nice crisp skin and moist meat.
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