Happy Wednesday guys! Straight to the point today because Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! What?! Let’s get right to it with this holiday’s the main event: Lemon herb dry-brined roasted turkey!
I’ve been fussing around with roasted turkey recipes for the past few years, trying to figure out the best way to get a juicy, flavorful turkey with as minimal effort as possible because lets be real. Thanksgiving in the kitchen can get craaazy! Last year, I tried a dry-brined roasted turkey, and it changed. My. Life.
I even cheated 😇 with the recipe and it still came out fabulous! Many dry brining recipes include a step where you loosen the skin from the meat, breaking through the membrane, and seasoning both under and over the skin…Well I’m as lazy as they come and it was WAY past my bedtime when I salted up that turkey last year. Did I bother loosening the skin to get at the meat? I absolutely did not. I just dumped that brine mixture all over the turkey, threw it in the fridge and called it a day.
I figured I’d test it out without that step for all those out there that just don’t really want to get that up close and personal to their main course.The verdict? Skipped that step and it was still the juiciest, most flavorful turkey I’ve ever had, hands down 🙌🏻. In conclusion, feel free to make your turkey even more amazing by separating the skin from the meat and salt it up. However, it will still be amazingly delicious without doing so.
Whether or not you take that extra step, it’s still SO MUCH EASIER than a wet brine! An even better result, without the mess! I shall explain. A wet brine uses a large amount of water and salt to moisten your turkey through osmosis. However, this can often result in a turkey that is crazy juicy, but pretty bland. Why? Because it’s just water!
Some say to use chicken broth but much of the flavor in chicken broth is made of dissolved solids that are too large to be absorbed into the meat, still giving you a bland turkey. A wet brine is also just such a hassle, trying to make sure you don’t slosh that raw turkey water everywhere 😰. Dry-brined roasted turkey to the rescue!
A dry brine does the same thing as a wet brine, but without the slosh and with way more flavor! Basically, 1 to 3 days prior to roasting, coat your thawed turkey in salt and pepper. Pop it back in the fridge, and let it sit there uncovered, 1-3 days, until ready to roast!
The secret: At first, the salt will pull the moisture, all those yummy meat juices, out of the turkey. However, because it sits for a while, the salt will then mix with the juices and disintegrate. This creates a concentrated brine which loosens the muscle. The juicy brine is then reabsorbed through this loosened muscle, giving you tons of tasty flavor and juiciness! Win win right?? Oh and also, a ridiculously delicious and crispy skin. You’re going to love it 😎.
Oh and by the by, if you’d rather skip the lemon and onion for filling the turkey cavity, here’s a tasty cranberry apple sage stuffing to use instead!
PS. Dry brining is for unsalted, non-Kosher turkeys only. Attempt a dry brine on a pre-salted or Kosher turkey and you’ll find yourself with a completely inedible main dish.
PPS. A dry-brined roasted turkey does tend to have a pink tinge to it once finished cooking. However, this pink is completely different in color than an uncooked pink turkey. Plus, temp your turkey with a thermometer before removing from the oven to make sure its done! Check the breast and the inner and outer thigh for at least 165˚F and you’ll be good to go.Print
- 10 lb turkey, thawed (unsalted, non Kosher)
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt*
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly minced + a few extra stalks
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, roughly minced + a few extra stalks
- 1 sweet onion, halved and cut into large chunks (about 6 pieces per half)
- 3 lemons, halved
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Mix salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Remove turkey from packaging and place on a cutting board. Remove neck and giblets. Discard or save for another use.
- Pat the turkey dry using paper towels. Tuck the tips of the wings underneath the breast, back behind the neck area or truss as desired.
- Liberally sprinkle the brine mixture all over the turkey, including a little bit in side the cavity.*
- Place on a roasting pan and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, preferably 1 to 3 days.*
- When ready to roast your turkey, remove the turkey and the roasting pan from the fridge and let come to room temperature for an hour.
- After an hour, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Brush the turkey with melted butter, drizzle with juice of 1/2 a lemon, and top with chopped herbs.
- Fill the cavity with 2 garlic cloves, half of the onion, 2 lemon halves and a couple of the herb stalks. Place the remaining onion, garlic, lemon, and herbs on the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Pour chicken broth and white wine into the roasting pan
- Place the turkey on a middle rack in the oven. Reduce the heat immediately to 350˚F. Rule of thumb is 13 minutes for every pound of turkey. I cooked my 10 lb turkey for just over 2 hours.
- Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the liquid on the bottom of the pan. IF the liquid has started to evaporate too quickly, add some more chicken broth to the roasting pan. Start checking the temperature of your turkey about halfway through it’s cooking time and adjust accordingly. Insert a thermometer into through the side of the breast, and into the inner and outer thigh. Once the temperature reads 165 or above in all three areas, the turkey is finished!
- If your turkey is quite large and starts getting a little too brown on the outside but is not done on the inside, cover with some aluminum foil until cooked all the way through.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, cover in foil if you have not already done so, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. While resting, feel free to make a gravy using the roasting pan sauce!
General consensus for a dry brine is about 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt for every pound of turkey.
If desired, loosen the skin from the meat, cutting through the membrane and salt the meat as well as the skin.
If a raw turkey in your refrigerator makes you nervous, gently and loosely cover it with some saran wrap.