A couple of years ago I discovered something called dry brining (although “dry brining” is a bit of a misnomer, since the definition of brining is to immerse in water). Prior to dry brining, I tried doing a regular brine but never really cared for the results. And the whole process was a big pain in my opinion. But dry brining is very easy to do and the end result is spectacular. I will probably never fix another turkey any other way.
Another thing I love about dry brining is the time frame is so flexible. You can brine it for one day or three days. It still tastes wonderful! Turkey still frozen? Not a problem! You can thaw it under cold water long enough to get the innards out and you’re good to go! The first year I did this, I had a frozen turkey and 24 hours to brine it. As I said, the taste was spectacular.
Brining the Turkey
adjust seasoning ratio for turkey size
1 turkey (14 lbs)
2 Tbs sea salt (though kosher is standard)
1 tsp each of herbs of choice
bag to put turkey in
container to set bag in
fridge to put container in
Prepare turkey by washing, drying, and removing any gizzards, neck, etc., from the cavities.
I use fresh herbs. I like to use a tsp of rosemary and a tsp of thyme. You can use any you like, fresh or dry, in any combination. The general rule of thumb goes something like this:
1 TBS salt for each 5 lbs of turkey
1 tsp each spice for each 5 lbs of turkey
Pepper according to taste
Combine salt and spices in a bowl.
Rub mixture all over turkey, covering well, then place in plastic bag and place in container. If you like, you can get fancy and put things like apples and oranges inside the turkey. Or you may want to loosen the skin on the breast and legs and run your spice mixture around in there. Feel free to get creative. But I do have to say, I have it on pretty good authority that it’s not necessary to go to all that bother. Place container in fridge.
At the end of brining time, take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit out at room temp, about 1-2 hours. This is the turkey after I took it out of the fridge. I let it come to room temp or close to it (about an hour and a half). I feel comfortable doing this, because A) I only buy pasture raised turkey and, B) this is what the instructions call for when dry brining.
Wipe off any excess (as in, excessive looking) salt, give it a butter rub-down (including under the skin), then roast at 425o for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes, turn heat to 325o and continue cooking till done. For a 14 lb. turkey, it will take about 2 1/2 – 3 hours total. You can also roast it upside down if you aren’t stuffing it. This helps the breast to be even juicier. This is my turkey cooking upside down last year.
Or, if it will fit, you can roast it in a rotisserie. This is what I did the first year. Because this turkey was only 14 lbs and with a little trimming, I was able to get it into my rotisserie.
About 20 minutes later:
And at the end of the cooking time:
This method produces such a moist, flavorful turkey!