Saturday, September 28, 2013

Salted or Dry Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Salted or Dry Brined Turkey -
Perfectly golden skin - my favourite part of the turkey!

I've been using a dry brine on my turkeys for the last three years. There are 2 schools of thought on the salting of a turkey. The first involves salting the bird for three days and then uncovering the turkey for the last 24 hrs to get a beautifully crisp skin when roasted. The other involves a much shorter time frame...just 24 hours but basically the same amount of salt.

I've tried both and I prefer the second method just because of the time factor. Both methods produce amazingly tender and juicy birds. And to be honest, I didn't see or taste a difference in the skin once roasting was complete.
This recipe is adapted ever so slightly from Bon Appetit.


Spiced Salt:

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup sea salt 
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (I like hot but sweet will work)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder


1 15 pound turkey (neck, heart, and gizzard removed)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile powder, divided
1 large onion, diced
10 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups  Turkey/Chicken/Vegetable stock


For spiced salt:

Toast cumin in skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Cool and grind finely with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Transfer to bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. This can be done ahead of time - just store on counter.

For turkey:

A day ahead:

  1. Pull any fat pads and remove any gizzards, kidneys etc from bird cavities  of your turkey. Refrigerate the fat for roasting with the turkey if desired. I don't use the innards but I know lots who do!
  2. Place turkey in roasting bag which you can buy at most grocery stores (you don't have to rinse the bird first - read here); sprinkle inside and out with spiced salt. Close the bag. Place your turkey on a baking sheet and refrigerate 18 to 24 hours.

Day of Roasting:

  1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat your oven to 325°F. 
  2. Combine honey/maple syrup and 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile in small bowl. Set his aside - it will be used to glaze your turkey. 
  3. Now rinse the turkey because you must get rid of the excess salt or your guests will not be happy!
  4. Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  5. Mix diced onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder in medium bowl. Place half or so inside the main cavity and the rest in the neck cavity. 
  6. Fold the neck skin under and secure with skewer. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Check here for how to truss.
  7. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Spread butter all over turkey (in every little crevice!). Give him a great final massage! Place reserved fat pads in roasting pan; pour in 2 cups stock.
  8. Roast turkey 45 minutes. Baste with pan juices. Continue to roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, basting every 45 minutes, adding water to pan if dry, and tenting turkey loosely with foil if browning too quickly, 3 to 3 1/2 hours longer. 
  9. Brush turkey with your pre-made glaze twice during last 30 minutes. 
  10. Transfer turkey to platter; tent very loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes. Reserve roasting pan with juices for gravy, if making (this caramelized onion gravy was part of original recipe - it's great!). 

1 comment:

  1. I have honestly never cooked a thanksgiving turkey before, somebody else usually takes care of it...which is weird seeing as I am the cook of the family haha. This bird looks great! Definitely want to try this method, thanks for sharing :)

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