I’m a purest when it comes to a Thanksgiving turkey. My recipe is simple & classic with a dry sea salt brine and an herb butter rub. Brining your turkey will help ensure the meat stays moist & juicy. My recipe calls for a dry brine 1 to 2 days in advance.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 (12-16 pound) turkey, ideally organic & pasture raised
- 1/4 cup Celtic grey sea salt (coarse or kosher salt is a must here)
- 1/2 cup softened butter or ghee (grassfed)
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
prepping + brining the turkey:
Remove the innards & neck from the turkey and reserve for turkey bone broth (recipe coming soon!). Dry the turkey well with paper towels.
Use your fingers to loosen the skin away from the flesh. Rub the sea salt onto the meat underneath the skin, in the cavity, and on the entire outside of the turkey.
Loosely cover the turkey in plastic wrap and dry-brine it in the fridge for 1-2 days.
The main event:
Now that you’ve ensured your turkey will be moist & juicy with the a dry-brine, it’s time to cook the bird for your Thanksgiving Day celebration.
Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the lowest position (or lower-middle depending on the size of your turkey). Remove the turkey from the refrigerator. Line a large roasting pan or sheet pan with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top.
Measure & mince the herbs and mix in to the softened butter. Take half of the herb butter and place in between the breast meat and skin and smush down the skin to spread the butter evenly. Spread the remaining herb butter on the outside of the turkey.
Place the turkey on the prepared roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of water in the base of the roasting pan – this will catch all the drippings, prevent burning, and help boost the volume of your turkey drippings for gravy. If you’ve got any vegetable scraps from all your other turkey day prep, this would be a good time to add then to the base of the pan to flavor the drippings — onion, carrot, and celery ends work great.
Place the turkey in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F and roast the turkey for an additional 1.5-2.5 hours depending on the size of your bird. The turkey is done when the breast meat reaches about 150°F and the thigh meat is 165°F.
If you notice during the cooking process that the skin is perfectly browned & crispy but the turkey isn’t quite finished cover the turkey breasts in foil (not the whole bird) until the turkey reaches the proper temperature.
After the turkey has reached the proper temperature, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Reserve the pan drippings for a simple turkey gravy that stupid delicious (click link for recipe).