A classic Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. Make a delicious juicy turkey with crisp skin by rubbing it down with a dry brine and letting it brine overnight in the fridge. Dry brining or salting the bird helps to draw moisture out creating juicy meat and crispy skin. I have been dry brining turkey for several years now and think the results are so much better than when I used to soak the bird in a wet brine.
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What is the best salt for dry brining a turkey?
Coarse kosher salt is the best salt for a dry brine. I have used fresh ground salt to make the brine for this turkey when I was out of coarse kosher salt and it was fine, but not as good. I used a lot less when using fresh ground salt. They both help to create a moist and delicious turkey, but the best results come from using coarse kosher salt. It gives the turkey the best juicy flavor and texture.
Can you make dry brine ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the dry brine up to three days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.
How long do you need to thaw a turkey?
If buying a frozen turkey, it will need to be thawed before cooking. A 12-14 pound turkey will need to thaw for 3-4 days in the fridge. This thaw time guide has the recommended thawing time for various turkey weights. You can thaw a turkey faster in water, but I always thaw in the fridge because it is so easy. You may be able to find a fresh turkey in larger grocery stores that would not need to be thawed before preparation.
I stuff the turkey with onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and some lemon and orange chunks which adds so much flavor to the meat as is roasts.
Dry Brine Ingredients:
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 Tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Zest of two lemons
Zest of an orange
12-14 lb. turkey
1 onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved
Poultry blend of fresh herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Sage)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature*
1 quart or more chicken broth* (I ususally need about 6 cups broth to baste and refill pan)
Lemon and orange chunks (you can save the lemon and orange from the dry brine for stuffing in the turkey)
1. Rinse thawed turkey, remove neck and giblets. Pat dry.
2. Mix the dry brine ingredients together. Rub all over turkey. Put the turkey in a large pan or brining bag and refrigerate overnight.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Rinse the brine off of the turkey. Pat dry. Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in roasting pan.
3. Stuff the bird with onion, garlic, lemon and orange chunks, and fresh herbs.
4. Loosen skin over breast meat and rub 3-4 T. butter under skin and allover the outside of the bird. You can tuck any remaining butter in the bird and under the wings and legs.
5. Pour 2-3 cups broth into roasting pan. Roast turkey 30 minutes.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
7. Continue to roast, basting with pan juices every 30-40 minutes, adding more broth to the pan as needed to keep liquid in the pan. Keep an eye on the skin to make sure it doesn't over-brown, tenting with foil as needed.
8. Roast for another 2 1/2 -3 hours (for 12-14 lb. turkey) until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.
9. Tranfer the turkey to a platter. Tent with foil and let rest 30 minutes before carving.
10. For a pretty presentation, surround turkey with orange and lemon wedges and fresh herbs.
If you need a turkey platter, I suggest Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I bought mine there several years ago for a very good price and love it. It is huge so I kept the original box and store it on shelves in the garage.
*When it comes to broth and butter, you can use unsalted butter or regular butter and low sodium broth or regular broth. I have used both and did not find the meat to be too salty when using regular butter and regular broth. Make sure to rinse all of the brine off of the bird before preparing it to roast. A nice balance would be unsalted butter with regular broth or salted butter with low sodium broth.
Some of our other Thanksgiving favorites:
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Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher turned food blogger. I love God, my family, and food. You can usually find me in the kitchen preparing family friendly, homemade recipes and taking lots of pictures.
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