Fall Feast Main Course: Dry-Brined Turkey

The star of our Fall Feast was the turkey. It's not just for Thanksgiving, you know! We admit to using one from our grocery store - a 14-and-1/2 pounder from Shady Brook Farms. At the butcher's suggestion, we soaked the bird in cold water for an hour to release some of the salt in which the meat had been processed. We wanted to dry-brine it, and adding brine without soaking could make it too salty.

After soaking the turkey, we dried it well with paper towels and placed it in our roasting pan. We then rubbed the brine, a salt-and-herb mixture (see below), all over the skin and inside the cavity of the turkey. After wrapping the entire turkey/pan package with plastic wrap, we placed it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, we prepared the turkey for roasting. We first rinsed off the salt/herb mixture and patted the turkey dry once again. We made an herbed butter (see below), loosened the skin and rubbed the butter both under the skin and over it. We stuffed the cavity with a bundle of fresh herbs (a few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary, as well as a small bundle of sage leaves) and one peeled, halved onion and put it in a 350-degree oven for the recommended 15 minutes per pound. We roasted it with the breast side down for the first two hours to allow the juices to soak into the breast and ensure that it wouldn't dry out, then we flipped it for the remainder of the time. We also basted it a few times, when we thought about doing so.

The end result was a turkey that was moist and tender. The herbs imparted a wonderful flavor to the meat that we amped up with a tasty cider-sage gravy (next post!). The skin was nicely browned and crispy, and all parts - legs, wings and breast - were evenly cooked. Naturally, what is the one thing we neglected to photograph during our Fall Feast? The turkey before it was carved. Instead, we have a platter filled with the meat for serving. For once, perhaps, it's not about presentation...

Got leftovers? Try our directions for Turkey Pot Pie.

For the dry-brine:
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons each of dried thyme, rosemary, marjoram and savory (or your choice of herbs)
1 teaspoon pepper
3 bay leaves, crushed into small pieces

For the herbed butter:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, mostly melted
1 tablespoon dried herbs de Provence (or your choice of herbs)

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