Saturday, December 6, 2008

roasted dry-brined turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey 2008 1

Mmm...turkey. It's a shame my family only make it once a year. The Athlete insists that if we had turkey more often, Thanksgiving wouldn't be as special. I disagree -- I think Thanksgiving would be just as special, and we'd all be happier if we had more turkey. More is better, right? Isn't that the American way? Anyway, here is the recipe I used for our Thanksgiving turkey this year. In previous years, I used a Williams-Sonoma recipe that was perfectly fantastic. It certainly set the bar high, but this year's Martha recipe didn't disappoint.You have to start 2 days ahead of time, but the advance salt rub makes the turkey oh, so tender. (If you have even the tiniest cut on your hand, this process will seem torturous, so wear latex gloves.)

P.S. See those giant forks sticking out of our turkey below? Those are roast lifters. If you're going to attempt to roast any large piece of meat or poultry, do yourself a favor and pick up a pair. You'll be glad you did when your turkey is resting comfortably on a platter instead of the floor.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2008 2

Roasted Dry-Brined Turkey
A recipe from Martha Stewart Living, November 2008
Serves 10-12

Kosher salt
14 dried bay leaves, 10 crushed and 4 left whole
1 whole fresh turkey (22 to 24 pounds), giblets and neck reserved for stuffing or gravy
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup water, plus more if needed

Combine 2/3 cup salt and crushed bay leaves in a small bowl. Rinse inside and outside of turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub 2 tablespoons of the salt mixture on each leg portion, 1 1/2 teaspoons on each wing, 2 tablespoons on each breast, and the remaining salt mixture inside the cavity. Place turkey in a large oven bag and seal tightly, removing any trapped air. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 48 hours.

Remove turkey from bag and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine 1 stick butter, the wine, and whole bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with rack in the lowest position. Rinse inside and outside of turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tuck wings under turkey. (If the wings won't stay tucked, secure them with kitchen string.) Season cavity with salt and pepper. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Rub remaining 1/2 stick butter on turkey and season with salt and pepper. Pour water into roasting pan.

Place turkey, legs first, into oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then baste with butter-wine mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 and roast, basting with butter-wine mixture every 30 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours.* (Add more water to roasting pan if necessary to prevent pan drippings from burning.) Rotate pan, and roast until skin is golden brown and thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone registers 165 on an instant-read thermometer, 30-45 minutes more. Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, reserving pan juices and roasting pan for gravy making, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

* You may need to cover the turkey with a sheet of foil if it develops that nice, golden roasted color early on in the cooking.

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