Friday, November 25, 2016

How To Dry-Brine a Turkey

How To Dry-Brine a Turkey

What You Need

Ingredients – 14 to 16 lbs bird
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients – 18 to 24 lbs bird
4 ½ tablespoons Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt
2 ¼ teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend
1 ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

·      Small bowl
·      Measuring spoons
·      Cutting board
·      Large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan

·      Mix the salt, pepper, and herbs together in a small bowl.
·      Remove the fresh or thawed turkey from the packaging; set the giblets and neck aside.  Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
·      Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels.
·      Tuck the wings back: Bend the wings back and tuck under the breast.
·      Loosen the skin of the turkey.
o   Using your hands, separate the skin over the breast from the meat; make sure to break through the thin membrane between the skin and breast while leaving the skin itself intact.
o   Similarly, loosen the skin over the meaty part of the legs.
·      Season the cavity: Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey.
·      Season the meat: Rub 2-3 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the legs (under the skin). Rub 4-5 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the breasts (under the skin).
·      Season the skin: Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over all the skin of both the breasts and legs and rub around to distribute it evenly and help it adhere to the outside of the bird.
·      Refrigerate: Place the turkey breast-side up in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan lined with paper towels and refrigerate uncovered for at least 12 hours, but ideally 3 days.
·      When ready to cook, you do not need to pat the bird dry before cooking — it should appear dry and ready to be roasted, grilled, or deep-fried!
·      You can dry-brine a partially frozen turkey; while I prefer starting with a thawed turkey because you can separate the skin from the meat for more even seasoning, you can dry-brine a frozen turkey.
·      Type of salt; the brand of salt is very important. I ALWAYS use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is flakier and larger than regular table salt. If you only have a fine salt, use half the amount called for.
·      Brine proportions for a smaller turkey: Turkey sizes vary, so if you have a larger or smaller bird, go by these proportions instead: For every 5 pounds of turkey, you will need 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
·      Fresh herbs substitution: instead of dried herbs, you can substitute 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (or 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of turkey).

·      Other flavoring ideas; you can substitute any herbs you like…and can also add in a little brown sugar to the dry brine for a touch of sweetness.

Split, Smoked Turkey

How to Smoke a Split Turkey

What You Need

·      Optional - 1 stick unsalted butter, softened


·      Smoker
·      Hardwood
·      Sharp Knife
·      Tongs
·      Large Rimmed Baking Sheet or Meat Platter

Instructions – 18 to 24 lbs bird
·      Note: with a larger frozen turkey, you’ll need to allow 3 days for it to slowly defrost in the fridge and at least 12 hours to dry brine before you proceed.
·      Using a meat cleaver, spatchcock the turkey by cutting along both sides of the backbone; reserve backbone piece.  If the turkey is still frozen, place it in the sink and run room temperature water over it until it is thawed.
·      Flip the bird breast side up, and use a knife to cut down the middle of the breasts; once the meat is separated, use a meat cleaver to cut through the center of the breastbone.
·      Once the bird is dry brined, it should be dry and ready for the smoker!
·      Optional – slather the outside of the bird with softened unsalted butter.
·      Set-up smoker; temp should hover be between 250 and 300 degrees.
·      Place turkey halves breast side up in smoker; make sure they are not overlapping or touching.
·      Monitor the temperature of the bird and the smoker.
·      The breast is cooked when the temperature reaches 165 degrees.
·      The thigh/leg is cooked when the temperature reaches 175 degrees.
·      To prevent overcooking of the breast or undercooking the thigh/leg, you may wish to separate the breast/wing from the thigh leg as soon as the breast meat reaches optimal temperature – 165 degrees.  You can do this by pulling each half of the turkey out of the smoker, placing them on a baking sheet, platter, or other large clean surface.  Then, using paper towels, gently pry the breast away from the thigh/leg – the bird should be mostly cooked, making it easy to pull apart, but you may also need to use a knife wherever there is resistance.  Place the thigh/leg pieces back into the smoker until each reaches 175 degrees.  While the thigh/leg is still smoking, loosely tent the breast pieces with foil to keep them warm.  Alternatively, the breast pieces can be wrapped in foil and placed in a low temperature oven or empty ice cooler with the lid down to keep warm.
·      When the bird is fully cooked, carve it up and enjoy it with friends and family!
·      Breast meat on a 24 lbs bird will take approximately 5 hours.

·      Thigh/leg meat on a 24 lbs bird will take approximately 5 hours 30 minutes.

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