Basic Dry-Brined Turkey

  • 1 (15-20-pound) turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 2 small onions, halved
  • 2 small apples, cored and halved
  • ½ cup solid fat, softened (butter, bacon fat, and even coconut oil will work)
  • 2 cups white wine or broth, divided

Two to three days before roasting, rub your turkey all over with kosher salt, slipping the salt under the skin where possible and rubbing some into the cavities. Use about 1 tablespoon per 4 pounds of bird.

Wrap the turkey in a large plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator. On the second night, turn the turkey over. A couple of hours before it's time to roast, remove the turkey from the bag and pat it dry. Do not rinse it first. Place the bird in a roasting pan and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle half of the pepper into the main cavity of the turkey; add the thyme, parsley, half the onions, and half the apples. Put the remaining apples and onions in the neck opening and tuck the neck skin under the bird.

Rub the solid fat of your choice under the breast skin and onto the thigh meat. Sprinkle the bird with the remaining pepper. Flip the bird carefully in the pan (I adore using a roasting rack for this) so that the breast side of the turkey is facing down. Tuck the legs under, using the rack to hold them in place. Truss them only if they are not held in place.

Roast the turkey in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° F and add 1 ½ cups of white wine (or use broth or a blend) to the bottom of the roasting pan and roast the bird for another 12 minutes a pound for an unstuffed bird.

The turkey has fully roasted when a meat thermometer (digital is best) placed in the thigh, not touching bone, reads 160° F.

When the roasting is done, tip the turkey so that the interior juices run back into the pan. Remove the turkey to a separate platter, cover with foil, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the fat and drippings from the pan into a measuring cup. Deglaze the roasting pan with ½ cup white wine (or use broth) and pour that into the same measuring cup. Use the fat and drippings to make gravy. I like to thicken using cornstarch mixed with cold water and adjust seasonings after I achieve the desired consistency.

  • Yields: 1 turkey
  • Preparation Time: 2-3 days, mostly hands-off chilling/brining and roasting

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