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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dry Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

This year the task of roasting the Thanksgiving Turkey has been delegate to us. For the past 7 years we have shared Thanksgiving Dinner at the home of our dear friends with about 50 other Americans Canadians, Europeans and Ticos (Costa Rican). We have always contributed to the feast with side dishes. This year finds our friends in the middle of the construction of their new home, without an oven, so we will be preparing the turkey.

Since I haven't cooked the bird in several years, I decided to research techniques for getting a juicy turkey with crispy skin, and opted for a dry brine method 24 hours before roasting. Rounding up the traditional herbs required some effort, but a friend of ours came through for us with some fresh sage from his garden. I dried the sage leaves in the oven at 210°F. for about 5 hours, until the leave crumbled between my fingers. Then I put all the dried leaves in my spice grinder to come up with the best fresh rubbed sage ever.

Dry Brine Ingredients: (for 18-20 pound turkey)
10 sprigs basil
6 sprigs rosemary
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons rubbed sage
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ cup salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Use a food processor to mince the basil, rosemary, garlic and lemon zest.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Add the minced herbs to the bowl of dry.
Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat it dry, inside and out.
Rub the dry brine mixture all over the turkey, inside, outside, and into every little crevice.
Let rest, uncovered, in the refrigerator 24-36 hours.

Put the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat oven to 325°F
Rinse the brine off the turkey and pat it dry.
Mix two stick of softened butter, with a tablespoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary, 1 teaspoon of coarse ground pepper until combined.
Reserve about 4 tablespoons of the butter.
Rub the rest of the butter mixture under the turkey skin on the breasts and legs.
Rub 2 tablespoons of the reserved butter on the skin.
Save the rest of the butter mixture for gravy.
Let the turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.
Put the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan lined with several stocks of celery, tucking the wing tips under.
Fill the breast cavity with sprigs of fresh rosemary, thick slices of lemon, and a quartered onion.
Tie the drumsticks together with twine.
Roast until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165°F, about 20 minutes per pound.
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving.

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