I ordered a 10.81 lb Free-Range Willie Bird Turkey from our neighborhood butcher Drewes. I decided to dry-brine again this year except I’d have to do it one less day since earliest pickup was on 11/22. No matter I was ready to go. Menu was picked out: I would make the roast turkey, oyster stuffing (Anna’s favorite!), sour cream mashed potato, gravy, and a simple broccoli dish. Anna was in charge of the sweet potato biscuits, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (another favorite!).
All of this food for the three of us! We like turkey leftovers and leftovers we would have.
To dry-brine the bird I used the same recipe as I used last year from latimes.com. For every 5 lbs of bird, use 1 tbsp of salt. So I had a touch over 2 tbsps to massage my bird with.
Take the bird out of the plastic wrap.
Don’t forget to take out the bag of insides and the neck. Save the neck for jook (aka rice porridge).
Clean the bird by rinsing under cold water.
Dry with a paper towel.
Oh. Don’t forget to cut the butt off.
Lightly salt turkey inside with a bit of salt.
Take about 1 tbsp of salt and massage into breast area.
Turn bird on its side and sprinkle about half of the remaining salt on the side and massage in, concentrating on the thighs. Flip the bird over and using the remaining salt, do the same with the other side.
Take a brining bag. I got some from Williams-Sonoma. Comes in a pack of four – two large bags and two small ones.
Place turkey in bag, squeeze out the air and seal tight.
Place in fridge. Ideally over the next three days, massage the salt into the bird every so often. I half hardly did it once. Kind of. And like I mentioned at the beginning of this post I only had two days to work with.
This is what the turkey looked like after the two days of brining. No visible salt. I took a paper towel and gently patted it down.
Place turkey breast side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
On the day you are to cook it, take it out of the fridge, and leave it at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Place the turkey on a rack breast side down and put in oven for 30 minutes.
Take the turkey out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325F.
Turn turkey so that it sits breast side down on the roasting rack.
Add a couple slabs of butter to the breast.
Place turkey back into oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees. Do initial check after one and half hours to see what the temperature is at. Check every 10-15 minutes thereafter.
Unfortunately what happened to me was Lilly was crying and I had to tend to her so I forgot to turn the temperature down to 325F while following the rest of the steps. I didn’t realize this until a good half and hour later. I quickly turned it down and cursed to no end. I ended up taking it out at the two hour mark and the thermometer zoomed all the way to 180F! It was cooked (sigh).
Take turkey out and tent loosely with foil for about half an hour. Slice and serve!
Given my mistake, I cringed when I took my first bite of turkey but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Yes, it was a bit dry but I’ve had much drier elsewhere. A pity considering I used the same recipe last year and the meat was super moist.
Happy Thanksgiving one and all!