The great American debate: What is the best way to cook a turkey? There are many ways to prepare this supposedly flightless bird but brining is one way to retain those juices.
One problem with brining is you need to find a space in your fridge to fit a bucket big enough to fit a large Turkey. There is also the issue of traditional brining where the bird can retain too much juice from the brine itself.
So how can you help the bird keep its juices without soaking the bird in a salt solution? Enter “Dry Brining.” With this technique you liberally coat the turkey in salt and leave it in the fridge for two days, flipping it once after the first day.
The salt dissolves into the skin, and the turkey instead holds onto its natural juices which gives the turkey a more natural juicy flavor.
Another thing that helps keep a turkey juicy is the proper cooking method. With this recipe, I employed the Alton Brown method of making a foil tent to put on the breast, so it cooks slower than the rest of the turkey. Why do you want the breast to cook slower than the rest of the turkey? Well for one, the breast (white meat) is extremely easy to overcook and dry out, and the thighs and legs (dark meat) should be cooked to a higher temp and are much harder to dry out.
Red Apple sliced
1/2 onion sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Two oven food thermometers (I used an iGrill 2)
Roasting pan with rack (to keep turkey off of drippings)
- Two days before serving, rinse turkey and pat dry. Rub skin liberally with kosher salt, rubbing salt under skin and cavities where possible. Use about one tablespoon per 4 pounds of bird.
- Wrap the bird in a large plastic bag and place in refrigerator. On the second night, turn the turkey over. A couple of hours before cooking, remove the turkey from bag and pat dry. (Do not rinse first.) Place into roasting pan and allow the turkey to warm up a little.
- Preheat oven to 500ºF.
- Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped ingredients to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
- Create a foil shield molded to the turkey’s breast and set aside.
- Insert two probe thermometers, one into the thickest part of the breast and one into the thigh. Set the breast temperature at 155°F and the thigh at 165°F.
- Put turkey in legs first
- Roast turkey on lowest level of oven at 500°F for 30 minutes
- Take turkey out and cover turkey breast with foil shield
- Set oven to 350°F
- Turkey will take about 20 minutes per pound
- When the turkey reaches proper temperate, take the turkey out and let turkey rest with foil loosely over the top for 60 minutes before carving.