If, like me, you have limited fridge space, and can’t soak a whole turkey in a brine, then this dry-brined roast turkey recipe is a great alternative. It’s a very easy recipe that yields amazing results!
Almost exactly two years ago, I spent my first Thanksgiving in Canada in a hospital bed with smashed bones the surgeons had painstakingly put back together… (Humpty Dumpty tried to cross the road, Humpty Dumpty was hit by a car, three different surgeons and countless nurses put Humpty Dumpty together again, but Humpty will never be the same again!).
My first Thanksgiving dinner in hospital consisted of cold, unseasoned turkey slices with mashed potatoes that tasted like cotton wool and a spoonful of metallic-tasting canned cranberry sauce. It just made my depression even worse.
Now that I got my little self-pity party out of the way, let’s get to the recipe. A few months after my accident, my physiotherapist gave me this recipe. I’ve been making it on many occasions since: my birthday, New Year’s and Thanksgiving. I know I should’ve posted this before Canadian Thanksgiving, but I didn’t have good pictures and decided to do a new turkey photo shoot this time around.
This recipe is perfect if you don’t have a suitable container or the fridge space to soak an entire turkey in a brine solution. And if you’re lazy like me. I also like my turkeys unstuffed; I often make the “stuffing” on the side because I don’t like how it turns out when it’s cooked with the turkey. Plus it’s supposedly not that good for you. Also, this recipe works beautifully for roast chicken as well. In the words of my former physiotherapist “A turkey is basically a very big chicken.” Words of wisdom indeed!
- One smallish turkey (around 4 kgs)
- Two to three tablespoons coarse kosher or sea salt (enough to cover the entire turkey, you may need to add more salt as needed)
- A large handful of dried sage leaves, rosemary, Italian herb mix (again, you might need more or less depending on the size of your bird).
- Three or four fresh cloves of garlic, crushed using mortar and pestle or a garlic press. You can use store-bought, in which case it’s about two tablespoons of minced garlic.
- Three or four tablespoons unsalted butter slightly soft and at room temperature.
- At least 24 hours before you cook the turkey, mix the seasoning (salt, herbs and garlic). Cover the entire bird’s surface with the herb and salt mix. Then, carefully, get your fingers under the skin without tearing it. The operative word here is “carefully”! Place some seasoning under the skin on all sides as much as possible. Season inside the turkey too.
- Let the turkey sit uncovered in a tray or deep plate in your fridge for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.
- On the day you intend to cook it, take the turkey out of the fridge at least one hour in advance.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (for conversion to Celsius, click here).
- Rub the softened butter onto the turkey on all sides. Be careful not to dislodge the seasoning.
- Place enough water in the bottom of a large roasting pan to cover at least one or two centimetres. Preferably use a pan with a roasting rack in it.
- Cover the turkey with aluminium foil and place in the oven. Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the turkey or stick to it (the foil should be like a tent). Cook for at least three hours (or depending on the weight; this is a handy guide for turkey roasting times). In the final hour of roasting, remove the foil to allow the skin to brown and crisp up. Baste it regularly with the liquid at the bottom of the pan. If the liquid is reduced too much, add extra water.
- Once it’s done, remove turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least half an hour and ideally for about an hour. In the meantime, you can make the gravy or salad, or set the table. Carve the turkey; this is an excellent demonstration of how to carve a turkey.
- Serve with potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad or whatever takes your fancy! (Coming up is a recipe for honey-soy glazed baby potatoes, so stay tuned!)
Do you like roasting turkeys? How do you make them? Let me know in the comments!
For other roast poultry recipes, check out:
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