DRY-BRINED ROAST TURKEY WITH MAPLE BUTTER
Makes 10 to 14 servings.
I have been roasting turkeys for longer than I can remember. When I tested this recipe, the turkey exceeded my expectations and happily fell into my Seriously Simple style. Dry-brining requires a very large, sealable plastic bag and isn’t a big to-do.
The secret to this juicy turkey is to dry brine it, which means coating the bird with a seasoning salt and letting it rest in a sealed plastic bag for 3 days. It is highly flavorful, with firm meat and crisp skin. Because it’s butterflied, there is less cooking time. You can butterfly the turkey yourself or have the butcher do it for you.
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
3 tablespoons seasoning salt
1 turkey, 14 to 16 pounds, butterflied
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup chicken or turkey broth, plus more broth during roasting, if needed
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1. Three days before you cook the turkey, combine the lemon zest, thyme and seasoning salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Wash the turkey inside and out and pat dry all over.
2. Place the butterflied turkey, skin-side down, on a sheet of foil or the rack of a roasting pan. Rub a tablespoon or so of the salt mixture all over the bird, making sure the meat is well-coated. Turn the bird over, skin-side up, and rub the remaining salt mixture all over the bird, concentrating on the breast and thigh areas. Put the bird in a 2.5-gallon lock-top plastic bag and seal carefully. Refrigerate, turning every 12 hours and rubbing the salt in to coat it evenly, for 3 days.
3. On the morning of the day you are going to cook the turkey, remove the turkey from the bag and place it, breast-side up, on a large, rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pat the outside dry and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to help the skin dry further. Remove the turkey 1 hour before roasting to bring to room temperature.
4. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Tuck the onion, carrot and apple slices underneath the turkey in an even layer. Combine the melted butter with the maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Brush the turkey with the basting mixture.
5. Place the turkey in the center of the oven and roast it for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 1 more hour, basting occasionally with the accumulated pan juices and melted-butter mixture. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and roast for about another hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching bone, registers 170 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Photo by Noel Barnhurst