I’ve only ever used one turkey brining recipe–Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey. I prepared my first-ever turkey this way and it turned out so well, I never bothered looking at another recipe again.
Fast forward to last night, as I was browsing the world wide web before bed. Out of nowhere, the words “dry brined turkey” caught my scrolling eye and before I knew it, I changed my upcoming turkey cooking plans. *gasp* I never thought I’d see this day.
Although I adore Alton Brown and do exactly what he as told me to over the years (via his Good Eats show, not in real life), I’ve hated the big fat mess that wet brining creates. I have a morbid fear of E. coli and salmonella and all those gallons of contaminated turkey juice freak me out so badly that I have to go outside and hose down anything the raw turkey has touched.
This new dry brining method sounded too tidy and simple for me to pass up, so I went and picked up my fresh, local, and pre-ordered Branigan turkey this morning and went to town. So far so good and I can’t wait to see how it turns out on Thursday. I’ll post a blog update on the pros and cons of each method after I digest my dinner.
**Note: This particular method calls for three days of brining, but I’ve seen others requiring less time. And if you’re really tight on time, just use the rub and pop the bird in the oven. I won’t judge, I promise. 🙂
Adapted from Food52
Dry Brined Turkey
For one 12 lb. turkey
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
Remove the rosemary and sage leaves from their stems and add to a food processor along with the sale and peppercorns. Blend until everything is finely chopped.
Wash the turkey inside and out and pat it dry.
Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with the rub. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest.
Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
Place the turkey in a 2 1/2-gallon sealable plastic bag. Press out the air and seal tightly. (If you can’t find a resealable bag this big, you can use a turkey oven bag, but be prepared for it to leak.) Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day. Rub the salt around once a day if you remember.
Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Pat it dry one last time and baste with melted butter, if using. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it’s easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.