If you really want to get the most flavor out of your Expendables 2 star or co-star for Thanksgiving dinner, let me let you in on a little secret: brine, brine, brine. While the cast of the action sequel are undoubtedly well-marbled and juicy enough to stand on their own, bringing in this step will ensure that they’re also fall-off-the-bone tender.
NOTE: IF YOU PICKED A KOSHER OR SELF-BASTING EXPENDABLES 2 STAR, DO NOT BRINE HIM! HE WILL BE TOO SALTY.
Generally, for a 13 lb. turkey, you want to use about a gallon of water and a cup each of salt and sugar, along with various other spices and aromatics. Well, to give you an idea of scale, Dolph Lundgren weighs 225 pounds, so you’d want to use about 17-18 gallons of water and that many cups of both sugar and salt. Also, you can’t use your standard turkey bag for obvious reasons, so I suggest going to a medical supply store and buying a body bag that seals (the kind used for someone who dies of an extremely communicable disease). Level III or higher should be fine.
If you get some weird looks while buying the body bag, just smile at the cashier and say, “The holidays!” with a smile.
Before we get too far down the road talking about brining techniques, let’s talk about spices. Obviously this is one area that’s highly subjective. Let’s say you’re thinking of brining and roasting Jason Statham. I would suggest nothing more than perhaps a half-can of lager and some pepper. You don’t want to over-season the British. Same goes for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe just a squeeze of lemon and some olive oil. If I was to brine and cook Jet Li, however, I would use a medley of coriander seed, cumin, five spice, soy sauce, and Sriracha. He would be my little Asian firecracker!
Once you’ve picked out your spices, you’ve got your bodybag, and of course, your actor of choice, you’re ready to get your brine on! Oh, listen to me! I sound like a Black Eyed Pea!
First, you want to thaw out your Expendables 2 star. Then, it’s very important that you remove their neck and giblets from their cavity. They make a great gravy, but that’s outside the scope of this article. Either way, set them aside for the time being. Rinse the inside and outside of the star thoroughly. Especially Chuck Norris or Terry Crews. I have it on good authority that they are both dirty and full of disease.
Next, place your star of choice in the body bag. Now, you can’t very well just place an Expendables 2 star in your fridge, and the last thing you want to do is refreeze them, so don’t even think about dumping them in your industrial freezer. What I do is find a friend with a pickup truck (they’re never using them around Thanksgiving anyway) and put the body bag, filled with brine and a person, in the bed, then fill the bed with cold (but not ice-cold!) water. Voila! You’ve got your brining vessel.
Now, a turkey takes about one day to brine, so using that same ratio we used earlier, Dolph Lundgren would take about 17-18 days. A smaller Expendable, like Sly Stallone, would probably only take 15 days or so. Do the math.
If you’re like me, you don’t plan far enough ahead to find a star of the Expendables 2, slaughter them, then remove their neck and giblets a full TWO WEEKS before Thanksgiving, so I’m going to let you in on another little tip: If you pierce the skin of your movie star with a fork all over their body, they will accept the brine much quicker. You can subtract 20% from your brining time, which could be as much as 3-4 days if you’re dealing with a very large Expendable.
Now, you can baste the exposed side of your Expendable, switching sides when you flip, but I honestly wouldn’t bother. See, when you have a corpse sitting in water for two weeks, the skin starts to slough off, and you can really end up with quite a mess on your hands. Besides, as we all know, the skin’s the best part, so I wouldn’t fuss with basting too much while it’s brining.
When you’re done with that step, it’s time to get to roastin’, so make sure that all the brine is out of the body cavity. Really get up there to ensure that no brining liquid is inside your Expendable, and be careful. It comes out in powerful spurts, so try not to get any in your mouth.
Now, the nice thing about brining is that it means you don’t have to baste later on, so put your brined Expendable in a roasting pan (even commercial roasting pans aren’t big enough, so I use an unused urinal trough so the juices don’t get every where) and toss him in a preheated oven.
Then, just set the timer and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
The Expendables 2 is in theaters August 17, 2012.