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Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey

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Serves ten.

Dry-brining the turkey—that is, sprinkling it with salt and refrigerating it uncovered overnight—gives all the flavor of wet-brining, minus the big, awkward bucket of salt water.

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  • One 10- to 12-lb. turkey
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 medium to large yellow onions, unpeeled and cut into eighths  
  • 2 medium carrots, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium ribs celery, cut into 1-inch chunks

The night before: Remove the giblets from the turkey, cut off the tail, if attached, and reserve them for making the rich turkey broth. Rinse the turkey thoroughly. Sprinkle the salt all over it, starting on the back side, then the cavity, and finally the breast. Put the turkey on a wire rack set over a rimmed pan or platter and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

One hour before roasting: Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Fifteen to 20 minutes before roasting, position a rack in the lowest part of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Put half of the onions, carrots, and celery in the turkey cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings behind the neck and under the turkey. Scatter the remaining onions, carrots, and celery in a large flameproof heavy-duty roasting pan fitted with a large V rack. Set the turkey, breast side down, on the V rack.

Roast for 30 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and close the oven door. With two wads of paper towels, carefully turn the turkey over so that it's breast side up. Add another 1/2 cup water to the roasting pan. Return the turkey to the oven and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170°F, about another 45 minutes for a turkey in the 10-lb. range, or about another 1 hour for a 12-lb. turkey. (Keep a close eye on the vegetables and pan drippings throughout the cooking process. They should be kept dry enough to brown and produce the rich brown drippings to make gravy, but moist enough to keep from burning, so add water as needed throughout.) Transfer the turkey to a carving board or platter, tent with foil, and let rest for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving and serving. Meanwhile, make the silky pan gravy from the drippings.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on ten servings; Calories (kcal): 540; Fat (g): 25; Fat Calories (kcal): 230; Saturated Fat (g): 7; Protein (g): 72; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 0; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 850; Cholesterol (mg): 210; Fiber (g): 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This method is amazing! I spent some extra bucks on a free range fresh turkey (12 lbs) and followed directions exactly. Other than the color of the turkey being almost purple looking, it felt a little like rawhide. It actually worried me some, as I didn't want to ruin the whole meal. I should not have worried. Except for the surprise when I inserted the thermometer in the thigh to check the temp (juice spurted out like I'd punctured an artery) the turkey was just beautiful. But the taste was still unknown. When the bird was carved, with the juice again going everywhere, we all decided that that meant it was a juicy bird. The taste was just incredible...and very, very juicy. The skin was outstanding and crispy. I am a complete convert. It was the easiest turkey I've ever made. This method will be used from now on. Thanks, Fine Cooking for a keeper recipe and method.

I have made my turkeys like this since the recipe was in Fine Cooking in 2005. It ALWAYS comes out moist and delicious!

Pamela Anderson does it again! This turkey was so easy to prepare (not like the regular brining), the orange flavour was really nice and the meat was really moist. Great drippings to make the gravy with. A great hit with everybody!

Simple and easy instructions to follow. We had a success on our turkey with this recipe (for once!). Seemed a bit salty only on the first bite. Turkey was perfectly done and moist.

Can't believe how easy this is, a 12 pound turkey took 2 hours and was tender and full of flavor. The only thing I changed is I added grated lemon zest to the salt rub.... I did not rinse and it was not salty...it was delish.

Love the way this turns out. Perfectly seasoned and wonderfully crispy skin. Oh, to those that have asked...NO! DO NOT RINSE THE BIRD OFF WHEN DRY BRINING! There is only 1/4 C. total salt in this recipe, it will not result an over salted bird. If you rinse the bird, you will be defeating the purpose of salting and drying overnight in the fridge. This is what produces that gloriously crispy skin, which is one of the best parts of this turkey!

Simply the best, easiest and most delectable turkey. I added a lemon to the cavity and some herbs but I had a 20# bird so there was room. Pam Anderson hits another cooking home run!!!

Yes, this recipe should have included instructions to rinse the bird after you have dry-brined it and are ready to bake it. I have been to a demo of brining turkey at a local store, and in addition to the simplicity and ease of dry-brining, I liked the flavor better than the wet-brined bird. Adding some herbs that you prefer to the brine would be nice to add flavor.

I'm new to brining and like the idea of not having a large bucket of salt water in the fridge. I would like to try this for Thanksgiving, however, are we to assume that you rinse the salt off the turkey before roasting? The recipes does not say. Thank you.

I dry-brined my fresh turkey this year with fabulous results but there the similarity to this recipe ends. I cut the tendons at the knuckles of the drumsticks, did not truss the drumsticks at all and added no moisture at all to the pan during roasting. I roasted the bird at 450*F for 1/2 hour and then at 250*F until a thermometer in the groin (the space between the thigh and the breast of the bird) measured 155*F. The bird was drippingly moist and the most successfull turkey I have cooked for many years.

I have now used this recipe at least 6 times, sometimes on multiple birds. it is extremely easy, and yeilds a crispy skin and succulent bird. Works just as is, but if you are serving the turkey warm (rather than as part of a room temp buffet), the silky cognac & thyme gravy is also outstanding. A winner, and one that consistently draws raves.

The technique of dry brining sounds like a time saver, but other recipes I have read using this technique indicate rinsing the salt off the bird totally when ready to roast, and then continuing with the stuffing and roasting. If the salt is to remain on the bird, it would seem that would affect the taste of the final product. Did I miss something in the recipe?

I used this technique on my first bird, 2 years ago. It is so much easier than wet brining and it results in a juicy bird! I used a fresh turkey, which probably made a difference too.

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