The Bird is the Word — How to Cure and Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

Dear Martini exists to make cooking easier and more pleasurable for all.  If it’s your first time in the kitchen, we’re here to guide you through your recipes by offering simple cooking techniques whenever you need them.

Our mission couldn’t be more true than for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  If you’ve ever been gripped with fear over preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey, herein lies your salvation.  The turkey is cured for a couple of days before roasting — that is, it’s been rubbed with salt and left to sit in its own salty juices to season and tenderize.  The night before you roast, you’ll take it out of the salt juices and allow the bird to dry overnight in the fridge.  This process makes the skin tight and dry — which will reward you later with the tastiest, crispiest skin you’ve ever had!

This simple recipe, if followed to the letter, is a foolproof, confidence-booster.  Once you make this turkey for your friends and family, you will be requested to make the turkey for the next 100 years!

Please take note:  it’s a four-day process from curing to roasting, which does not include time for defrosting if the bird is purchased frozen.  Most frozen birds take 2-3 days to thaw in the fridge.  Make sure you factor the thawing time in with your preparations.  In our experience, a fresh bird is the better way to go — but only if your budget allows.

This four-day process can be broken down into three phases:

1)  Cleaning the Bird

2)  Curing the Bird

3) Roasting the Bird

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Roast Turkey 

Serves 8 to 10

1 (14-16 pound) turkey, defrosted
1 cup kosher salt
2 lemons
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 sprigs rosemary or thyme
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Special Equipment:
Cotton kitchen twine
Large brining bag

***This is a four-day process.***

Monday:
Remove the turkey from its wrappings and rinse under cold running water.  Remove the giblets bag and set aside for making stock later.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Rub kosher salt all over the surface of the turkey.  Place the salt-rubbed turkey into a large brining bag.  Move the turkey onto a large tray or platter and refrigerate for the next three days.

Tuesday:
Turn the turkey over so the salt and juices redistribute.  Keep the turkey refrigerated.

Wednesday morning:
Flip the turkey back to right-side up so the salt and juices redistribute again.

Wednesday, early evening:
Remove the turkey from its brining bag.  Use as many clean, dry paper towels as you can manage to clean the turkey by wiping the surface clean of any salt or juices.

Use a fork to prick holes all over the surface of the lemons.  Stuff the lemons, garlic and herbs into the cavity of the turkey.  Tie the turkey’s legs together with cotton kitchen twine.

Place turkey breast-side up on top of a roasting rack that has been set into a roasting pan.  Place the turkey in the fridge and keep over night, uncovered.  This will allow the skin to dry out and tighten, which will produce a crispy skin when roasted.

Thanksgiving Day:
Move your oven rack to the lowest position without being too close to the heating element.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Remove the turkey from the fridge.  Keep the turkey on the counter for about an hour to bring it up to room temperature.   Take a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and shape it to the top of the turkey, as if to cover the turkey breast and the roasting pan.  Remove the foil and set aside for later use.

When ready to roast, rub or brush the surface of the skin with canola oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, or until the skin of the turkey is golden brown.  Rotate the turkey 180° and lower the oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the bird registers 165°F.  Remember to insert the thermometer into the thickest place of the bird, either into the meatiest area of the breast (165°F) or into the thickest part of the thigh (170°).  A 14-16 pound turkey should take between 2-3 hours to roast.

Turkey Weight

Oven Temp

Internal Breast Temp

Internal Thigh Temp

Approx.

Cooking Time

10 – 13 lbs.

350°F

165°F

170°F

1 ½  to 2 ¼ hours

14 – 20 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

2 to 3 hours

21 – 25 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 to 3 ¾ hours

26 – 30 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 ½ to 4 ½ hours

During roasting, if the bird is browning too quickly, use the aluminum foil shield to cover the bird.  Remove the foil during the last 20 minutes of roasting to crisp the skin.

Carefully remove the bird to a large carving board with a well and tent with foil.  Immediately begin making the turkey gravy, using the roasting pan.  Allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 thoughts on “The Bird is the Word — How to Cure and Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

  1. Pingback: Dear Martini’s Thanksgiving Menu | Dear Martini

  2. Pingback: Thanksgiving Planning: Countdown to Turkey Day! | Dear Martini

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