Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio weighs in on the great turkey brining debate.

on Nov 23, 2012


Few meals conjure as much sentiment and emotion as Thanksgiving. Everyone has his or her own memories -- good or bad -- and they are, however subconsciously, linked to the food. So everyone has strong opinions about which food should appear on the table, and about exactly how that food should be prepared.

The chief food under discussion, of course, is The Bird. 

Roast the whole thing? Braise the legs but roast the breast separately? Spatchcock it? Baste? Don’t baste? Only baste at the end? This year, the big, heated (no pun intended) “discussion” in the Twittersphere/Blogosphere was about brining: To Brine Or Not To Brine (sub-“discussion”: if brining, to dry brine or wet brine?). I am decidedly in the “Brining’s not necessary” camp and posted my own recipe, and I can’t tell you how many indignant “But Alton Brown says the turkey must be brined!”messages I received.    

Not knocking Alton, whose knowledge of food and of food science I respect, but, as you saw on the show, my turkey comes out moist and succulent without all that fuss. In this challenge, my team basically did the turkey and stuffing as I do at home. The rest of the team, though, pretty much did whatever they wanted. I honestly had no idea what Carla was making (I couldn’t understand what she was yelling at me that she was doing) -- I’m just glad she did it so well. The team pulled together and put together nice dishes. Everything was beautifully presented and delicious. I initially expected just to advise my team and steer the meal in a particular direction, but when I got to the kitchen and saw Emeril at the stove, I jumped in, too, for a little while. We had a great time joking and cooking. Overall, it was a lot of fun.