BY WENDY LEIGH
Special to The Record
Pike Place pickle enthusiasts fondly remember the briny days of Britt Eustis fermenting pickles in genuine oak barrels, a practice that’s pretty much extinct in America today.
But guess what: He’s still at it, now in Langley, and brining pickles much the same way he’s done for more than a decade – albeit with a host of local helping hands now. This year, his pickle potion gives us a new take on Thanksgiving dinner.
Fortunately for existing and soon-to-be lovers of fermented foods, Britt’s team has shared a home guide to brining a turkey, along with a tongue-twisting primer dish. Get ready to pucker up, but don’t be surprised when your gobbler presents a much more nuanced, complex flavor profile than you’d imagine. After all, you’ll be utilizing pickle brine made through what’s exotically called the centuries-old “ancient art of lactic acid fermentation.” That means, among other things, no heat and no vinegar.
First up is a meal primer of sorts, or you can treat it as a warm appetizer before the main meal arrives. This sassy starter is called, quite simply, pickle soup.
Britt’s Fermented Foods Pickle Soup Recipe
– 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
– 1 cup Britt’s Fermented Foods pickles, chopped (mix of your favorite pickles)
– 1 large potato, peeled and diced
– 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 1 cup milk
– 1/2 cup sour cream
– 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Optional: Croutons or fresh bread for serving
1. Prepare the vegetables:
– In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic, and sauté until translucent.
– Add diced potatoes and sliced carrots. Cook for a few minutes until slightly softened.
2. Make the roux:
– Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir well to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
3. Add broth and pickles:
– Gradually pour in the vegetable or chicken broth while stirring continuously to avoid clumps. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
– Add chopped Britt’s Fermented Foods pickles to the pot. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Blend the soup:
– Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth, or leave it slightly chunky if you prefer texture.
5. Add milk and sour cream:
– Return the soup to low heat. Pour in the milk slowly, stirring constantly. Add sour cream and mix until well incorporated. Be careful not to let the soup boil after adding the dairy to prevent curdling.
6. Season and garnish:
– Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fresh chopped dill, reserving some for garnish.
– Remove the soup from heat and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
– Ladle the pickle soup into bowls. Garnish with additional dill and serve hot, optionally with croutons or fresh bread on the side.
Next up is the star of Thanksgiving, prepared in what could become your new favorite method, a pickle-brined turkey. It works with any kind of pickle brine, but the one from Britt’s gives you the authentic version fermented in the crucial oak barrels.
Britt’s Fermented Food Pickle-Brined Turkey Recipe
– 1 whole turkey (12-14 pounds)
– 1 gallon of water
– 2 cups of Britt’s Fermented Food Pickle Brine
– 1 cup kosher salt
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
– 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
– 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
– 1 tablespoon dried thyme
– 4 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 bay leaves
1. Prepare the brine:
– In a large pot, combine water, Britt’s Fermented Food Pickle Brine, kosher salt, and brown sugar. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
– Add black peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried thyme, smashed garlic cloves and bay leaves to the brine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let it cool completely. Refrigerate the brine until it’s completely chilled.
2. Prepare the turkey:
– Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator if it’s frozen. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity.
– Rinse the turkey thoroughly under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels.
3. Brining the turkey:
– Place the turkey in a large brining bag or a non-reactive container big enough to hold the turkey and the brine.
– Pour the chilled brine over the turkey, making sure it’s fully submerged. Seal the bag or cover the container and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If the turkey is not fully submerged, turn it occasionally to ensure even brining.
4. Preparing the turkey for roasting:
– Preheat your oven to the desired roasting temperature (usually 325°F or 163°C).
– Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
– Allow the turkey to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
– Roast the turkey according to your favorite recipe, using your preferred seasonings. The brining process ensures a flavorful and moist turkey.
5. Enjoy Your Britt’s Fermented Food Pickle-Brined Turkey:
– Once the turkey is cooked to perfection, let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before carving.
– Serve and enjoy your succulent, flavorful turkey with your favorite side dishes.
If you want to use the genuine pickle brine made in Britt Eustis’s Whidbey warehouse, here are some places to find it locally: Goose Community Grocer, Clinton Food Mart, Star Store, and Ken’s Korner Red Apple. You can also pick up their other fermented products, including kimchi and sauerkraut, for creating a Thanksgiving charcuterie board.