Thanksgiving 2020 and Dry Brining a Turkey
Thanksgiving has been one, if not THE favorite Holiday for me.
I guess I like the fact that friends and family can come together and hang out all day, while Christmas is more private for most with family alone.
The more the merrier, is my motto for this day. Even in years when we moved, I bought a Turkey, invited friends last minute and we feasted and had a good time.
Thanks to COVID, this year will probably be one of the smallest gatherings we have ever had. But its ok, we still have lots to be thankful for, especially this year. I count myself very lucky to have my family of four at the dinner table, there is nothing more I cherish than spending this day with my three men!
Over the years, I have perfected my recipes, my family has chosen their favorite side dishes and we roll on a routine that we love to repeat, with a few new tweaks here and there.
Thanksgiving Day is also our Christmas Photo shoot day because we are all together, dressed up and cheery - Might as well!
The first few years I wet brined my Turkey, but how messy is that? Until I read about dry brining and thats when I never looked back to bathing my huge bird in a big tub of brine.
Nope, I slap that dry brine on now, cover the bird, refrigerate for 12-24 hours and have the most wonderful bird, flavorful and juicy!
I got so many compliments on my turkeys over the years, thank you friends, you know who you are. And therefore I wanted to share my dry brine recipe with you too.
This recipe is for a big bird, about 12 lbs or more. Cut in half if you have a smaller bird.
2 tablespoons of grey salt
4 tablespoons of lemon and orange zest (organic please)
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons of coarse red pepper
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary and thyme
4 tablespoons of dried sage
4 bay leaves crumbled into smaller pieces
Mix it all together, store in a dry glass jar until ready to use.
The Day before
Prep Step 1
Wash your bird, remove all insides (if applicable), dry pat and then rub generously with the dry brine, inside and out... be generous, dont worry about the salt being too much! It won't!
Prep Step 2
When done, cover your turkey and put in fridge for 12-18 hours...not more than 24.
On the next day, 1-2 hours before you start roasting your bird, give it a good shower, rinse off all your brine, inside and out. Pat dry and then season, stuff or do whatever you like to usually do.
I make a sage butter ahead of time (you can use dry or fresh sage) and then rub it under the skin of the turkey by carefully separating the skin from the meat. Careful not to tear the skin. I also put some butter into the cavity (I don't stuff my turkey) along with an onion, more sage, an orange or two (cut up). I also tie the wings and legs, look that up online, so they all roast evenly.
I don't roast my turkey right away, I let it sit outside to warm up a bit before it goes into my hot oven.
I roast is for about 30 minutes at 400 F or 200 C so the outer skin browns a bit, then I lower the temperature to 350 F or about 165C and watch it closely.
Every oven is different and while I always do the pound per hour calculations, our turkey usually cook way faster. So pls keep in mind that this is not a sure thing and that you consider how well your oven works.
Also, make sure to use a thermometer with a probe that you insert into the biggest and fleshiest part or the bird so you can measure the inside temperature to make sure its cooked through and through. This is fool proof and you won't risk any health issues.
Baste, baste and baste... basting is key because all the molten butter will keep the outer skin moist (fat) and turn it crispy in the end. If you don't have enough basting material in the pan, then use some melted butter (this has happened to me before too, but turkey was still very juicy)... when you feel like the legs and wings get too dark, cover with tin foil until the rest is done, or lower the temperature a bit.
When done, take the bird out, let it rest for a little bit and then cut off the kitchen string from the wings and legs, and serve (slice and cut in front of guests or before). Enjoy
Happy Turkey Day