We were at the grocery store right before Thanksgiving and of course the turkeys were on sale so we decided to get one to make after Thanksgiving. I saw this dry brining method online so we decided to try it. I also found a recipe for this lemony thyme butter sauce in our Sam's Club ad so we combined the two to make our best turkey to date. The skin was crispy and the meat was really moist. Even the leftover turkey isn't dry. I am not sure which method made the turkey so good, but we will be making turkey like this in the future.
1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
Several celery ribs, carrots, a quartered onion, several garlic cloves and several sprigs of herbs
Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 3 tablespoons).
Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.
Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.
Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours (we didn't end up leaving the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator for 8 hours, so it is probably ok to skip this step).
Lemony Thyme Butter
Zest of large lemon
4 garlic cloves
1 cup butter, room temp
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 lemons cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Lemony Thyme Butter: Blend lemon zest and garlic in a mini-processor (or a regular food processor) until finely chopped. Add butter, mustard, lemon juice, scallions, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper, and process. The butter can be made two days ahead. Bring to room temperature before using.
On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven or a gas grill to 425 degrees. If using a gas grill with three burners, light the side burners only. If using a gas grill with two burners, light only one burner.
Starting at the neck end of the turkey, carefully slide your hand between skin and meat of the breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks, to loosen the skin. Spread the Lemony Thyme Butter over the meat of the thighs and drumsticks, below the skin, on both sides. Arrange a few lemon slices under the skin. Spread the remaining butter over the breast meat, below the skin. Fill the main cavity with any remaining lemon slices. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck the wing tips under.
Line the bottom of a roasting pan (Use a sturdy disposable pan, if using the grill) with the celery, carrot, quartered onion, garlic cloves and herb sprigs, which will serve as a make-shift roasting rack. Place the turkey breast-side down on the vegetables in the roasting pan; put it on the grill (over the unlit burner) or in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the grill or oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it’s easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).
Reduce the grill or oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the grill (again, over the unlit burner) or oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.
Remove the turkey from the grill or oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.
Brining Source: The Kitchen Sink
Lemony Thyme Butter: The Neely's via Sam's Club ad