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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Turkey - Dry Brined and Butter Roasted


Is it just me, or did Christmas sneak up on us this year? Thanks giving was late, then I was sick, then I was at Disneyland for a week. It's all good, but I am playing catch-up now.

We had several new dishes for our Thanksgiving celebration and I've been meaning to get them posted in case any of you need inspiration for your Holiday Table.  I have never brined a turkey before and I wanted to try it this year. In the past, we've always used those oven roasting bags because they can really make for a lot of gravy. This is a HIGH priority for my father-in-law. But, because he went to visit his brother in Arizona, we were free to experiment.

After reading several articles on the different methods and flavor combinations available, I decided to do a dry brine. The consensus seems to be that dry brining offers better texture for the finished product. Also, it seems a whole lot easier. No purchasing a 5 gallon food-safe bucket. No monitoring ice and water temperature. Just mash up some stuff. Mash it in to your turkey. Wrap it. Store it. Rinse it. Roast it. Easy Peasy.

I used a method offered by Honestly Yum, however, I altered the flavor components for my preferences.
 The supporting cast, in order of appearance:
Rainbow Pepper corns
Dried Garden Sage
Satsuma Mandarins
Meyer Lemons
Bay Leaves
Kosher Salt
Dried Onions
Garlic Powder
Fresh Garden Parsley
Fresh Garden Thyme
Fresh Garden Rosemary

 The citrus zest features in the brine rub while the juicy fruit was used to stuff the cavity.

 Everything goes in the food processor and is combined. This smells like savory, herby heaven!

Holiday Turkey - Dry Brined and Butter Roasted
1 Turkey, 15-18 pounds
3 tbsp. Rainbow Pepper corns
Zest of 2 Satsuma Mandarins or oranges (reserve fruit)
Zest of 2 Meyer Lemons or other type of lemon (reserve fruit)
5 Bay Leaves
1/2 cup Kosher Salt
2 tbsp. Dried Onions
1 tsp. Garlic Powder or granulated garlic
6 Sprigs Fresh Parsley
2 Sprigs Fresh or dried Sage - about 2 Tbsp.
6 Twigs Fresh Thyme
2 Twigs Fresh Rosemary
1/2 cup softened butter

Place every thing but the turkey and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything in about like sand.

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey's cavities. Wash thoroughly, inside and out. Remove any pin feathers. Dry as completely as possible with paper towels. Rub the spice mix all over the inside and the outside of the bird. Pile any extras right on top. Carefully place the turkey in either an oven roasting or a large zip lock bag designed to hold a turkey. Place on a pan or platter and place in the fridge. Brine one day breast up and the next day, breast down. (Reserve the giblets for the stuffing recipe TBA.)


When ready to cook, remove the turkey from the bag and rinse all the salt and herbs off, inside and out. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry the turkey and rub the softened butter all over. Stuff the cavity with additional herbs, garlic, onion and the remaining citrus fruit, quartered. Place, breast up, on a roasting pan or a broiler pan. This allows the juices and fat to melt off and be saved for gravy. Place the turkey, leg end first, into your oven. Cook at 400 degrees for 1 hour. This will make the skin very crisp and will seal the juices into the turkey. Reduce heat to 325 and continue to roast until the internal temperature measures 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. If you have a thermometer that will alert you when this temp is reached, that is ideal. I had a 17 pound bird and it took an additional 2 1/2 hours for me. 

Remove from the oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes and then carve. 

For gravy, pour any pan drippings into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add a slurry of 1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup cold water. There was not much fat in my drippings and most of that appeared to be butter, so I didn't skim. Whisk and cook to desired thickness. This more akin to a velvety butter sauce than traditional flour based gravy. Super yum!

Save the bones for soup! Enjoy!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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