Roast Turkey

I brined a turkey once. It was nothing short of a hassle-- buying a five gallon bucket, making and cooling the brine, getting it in there without spilling the brine, getting it out of there without spilling the now raw turkey laced brine etc. Now I just do a dry cure, rubbing the entire bird and cavity with aromatic salt and sugar, letting it sit in the fridge overnight, brush off the extra salt and bake.

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1 turkey
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
10 sprigs parsley, chopped
10 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
5 sprigs dill or sage, chopped discarding any woody stems
1/2 tsp chili flake (optional)


  1. Combine all items in a bowl or food processor to mix thoroughly
  2. Rub all over the turkey and let sit uncovered in the fridge overnight (I usually let it rest in the pan I’m going to roast the bird in the next day) Letting the bird sit uncovered overnight helps dry out the skin making it extra crispy Before roasting, brush off the excess cure from the bird and the pan
  3. Heat oven to 325
  4. Roast the turkey at 325F for 15 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird. If you have a 10lb bird it would be 150 minutes or 2.5 hours.
  5. Cook the turkey until the internal temperature (usually taken from the joint of the thigh to the chest cavity reads 155F. If you pull the turkey from the oven at that temperature and let it rest for 15 minutes (under a tent of tin foil) the internal temperature will rise to 165F, which is the food safe temperature for turkey without over-cooking.
  6. At cooking school, we were taught to melt ½ lb of butter and 1 cup of white wine together, drape the turkey in cheese cloth and then pour that over the bird. The cheese cloth will hold the butter to the skin for longer, encouraging browning and wick the liquid up from the roasting pan throughout the roast. The white wine adds acidity. I’ve done this a few times and it does add a lot to the bird, but is also a bit of a hassle to skim off the excess melted butter from drippings before making gravy. That said, it is very delicious and makes for a perfectly golden brown turkey.
  7. While it is lovely to present a whole bird to the table, I find it fiddly to carve it table side. I like to roast it well in advance of the meal. Let it cool so I can handle it easily without burning my fingers (about an hour or so) then carve the meat, transfer the meat to a serving platter and reheat to serve. It works well because the juices don’t run all over the cutting board during carving and is one fewer things to do a the last minute.