Chat Leftovers: Brining and stuffing, yes you can

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, one and all. Here’s wishing you a fabulous and stress-free celebratory meal. If you’re cooking and have run into snags, Food offers a special two-hour Free Range chat today. Just check in here at noon, the usual time; bring your questions, and help will be at hand.

I’ll start things off with a leftover question from last week’s chat:

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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I’m hearing that I’m not supposed to stuff a brined bird. Is that correct? I always stuff my turkey; I always check the temperature of the stuffing as well as the bird. I haven’t died yet or killed my guests, so I want to continue my practice. But I’m really intrigued by the idea of brining this year. Do I need to choose one or the other?

You do not! If you stuff your brined bird, you’ll be in good company. I have done it; recipe editor Bonnie S. Benwick has done it; Martha Stewart has done it.

The concern is that the stuffing or gravy might turn out too salty, and that did happen to me the first time I tried it, because I didn’t use my head and I salted the gravy base in advance. (I probably also used store-bought chicken broth, whereas now I make my own nearly-salt-free turkey broth.) The drippings were a little salty and pushed it over the edge. Since then, I’ve held back on salt in the stuffing and gravy and it’s been fine.

For the past several years I’ve spatchcocked (butterflied) my brined turkey and rested it on top of the stuffing. My Plan B for stuffing is that if it ever does emerge too salty, I’ll just mix it with the remainder of the stuffing that I bake in a casserole dish. (The stuffing never all fits inside/under the bird, right?) And that should fix it.

Before roasting, pat your brined bird dry with paper towels; that will remove salt that’s clinging to the bird and will help keep the sodium level down. Happy brining!

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