|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.
A day ahead:
- 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!
- 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:
- Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Combine honey/maple syrup and 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile in small bowl. Set his aside - it will be used to glaze your turkey.
- Now rinse the turkey because you must get rid of the excess salt or your guests will not be happy!
- Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
- 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.
- Fold the neck skin under and secure with skewer. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Check here for how to truss.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brush turkey with your pre-made glaze twice during last 30 minutes.
- 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!).