I hadn't made a turkey in over 15 years. This fit foodies was a little worried about disappointing her friends at her first annual Friendsgiving....so to work I went looking through all my favorite sites...Pinterest, all-recipes and Food network. Of course....the Famous Barefoot Contessa aka Ina Garten came through for me! This is her dry brine method and then "prep ahead" roast.
What is a bring anyways? Most brine methods are wet brines. You soak the turkey in salted water for a few days in the fridge to give it flavor. However our family is not blessed enough for two fridges so I was able to find a dry brine meathod that turned out awesome. Here is the recipe...
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Grated zest of 1 lemon1
(12- to 14-pound) fresh turkey
Two or three days before you plan to roast the turkey, combine 3 tablespoons of salt, the minced thyme, and lemon zest.
Wash the turkey inside and out, drain it well, and pat it all over with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt mixture in the cavity of the turkey and rub the rest on the skin, including under the wings and legs.
Place the turkey in a shallow dish just large enough to hold it and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one or two days.
The day before you plan to roast the turkey, remove the plastic wrap and leave the turkey in the fridge. The skin will dry out and turn a little translucent.
Here is a video on the dry brine:
Make-Ahead Turkey Prep
Again Ina came through for me with her fantastic recipe for make ahead turkey! I did not want to be stressed with carving the turkey during the festivities. I wanted to be present and there to hand out with all of our friends and connect. This method let me do just that and honestly it was the BEST turkey I've ever had!
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 whole lemon, halved
1 Spanish onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
4 Tablespoons of unsalted Butter melted
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of thyme leaves
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.
2. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
3. Roast the turkey for 2 to 2¼ hours, until the breast meat registers 165 degrees (put the thermometer in sideways) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and place the turkey on a platter.
4. Cut off the legs and thighs and put them back into the roasting pan, covering the breast and carcass tightly with aluminum foil. Place the roasting pan back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dark meat registers 180 degrees. Remove the dark meat to the platter with the turkey, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
5. Take the dripping out and put in fridge so that you can skim the fat. Carve the turkey and arrange it artfully on top of the gravy (made earlier). Place the platter uncovered into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, until the turkey is very hot. Serve hot with extra gravy on the side. I also took part of the dripping maybe a 1/4 cup and mixed with chicken stock and added to the pan to lock in moisture.
Make Ahead Gravy
This recipe was so good. Next time I would do half the wine unless you love the flavor then add the full cup. Make this while the turkey is in the oven.
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) grassfed unsalted butter
1 large red onion, halved and sliced
¼ inch thick4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
10 large fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onion becomes browned and starts to caramelize.
2. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, Cognac, sage leaves, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), and 1 teaspoon pepper.
3. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour and strain, pressing the solids lightly and then discarding them. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. After the turkey is cooked, remove it to a carving board to rest while you finish the gravy. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat and add the wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring and scraping up all the bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Slowly whisk the gravy base into the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the gravy is smooth and slightly thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
All in all this was an amazing Turkey and I would make this recipe again! Enjoy!
Want some Holiday tips and tricks to make it truly special? Check out this video: