Deep-fried, smoked, grilled, spatchcocked, stuffed, dismantled, braised, submerged in a vat of brine...over the many years I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve prepared turkey every which way, some more successful than others. But this year I’m going old-school with a big beautiful bird roasted in my oven.
I’ve learned some key tips through my experiments: brined turkeys taste better, butter helps keep things moist, and don’t stuff your turkey or you risk food poisoning (plus I find it a bit gross.) So, with the stuffing on the side, this year I decided to treat my turkey the way I like to treat my roast chicken.
The first step is to dry brine it. What does that mean? Rub the turkey all over (inside and out, under and over the skin) with plenty of kosher salt and then let it sit and let the salt work its magic over one or two days. It works the way a wet brine does, which is to impart salty flavor into the meat.
Next step: take the chill off the turkey and dry it all over with paper towels. I don’t bother rinsing it (and there's too much risk of cross-contamination with a giant dripping bird.) Drying it helps keep it from sticking, and helps the butter stick to it.
Then rub that bird all over with a herb-infused butter as you did with the salt: inside and out and under and over the skin. Stuff it with a few aromatics (but not so many that there is no air circulation inside the bird), pop it on a rack in a roasting pan, and roast, roast, roast away.
I like to keep some liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan to help keep things moist -- plus it makes for a great gravy base when you're ready to make it. I also like to turn the bird while cooking to make sure it’s all nice and crisp and browned.
Keep an eye on the temperature with an instant-read thermometer to make sure you don’t over or under cook this beauty.