Well here he is. The crowning recipe and carnivore moment of ‘A Flexitarian Thanksgiving.’ Everything on the menu is vegan except for this guy. Organic, free range, antibiotic free, amazingly crispy, moist and delicious, dry brined turkey.
I have cooked probably 5 or 6 turkeys in my day but none of them have ever turned out THIS GOOD! I have tried water brining, bacon wrapped, straight salt and pepper and deep frying. I will never look back at all of those complicated tricks. Dry brining is now my go-to method. I am a big fan of crispy skin and this one really knocks it out of the park with crispiness.
It is so important to “vote with your fork” and insist upon high quality meats. I encourage you to ask your grocer where the turkey’s came from and what is in them. In A Flexitarian Thanksgiving Part 1 I provided links to finding healthy turkeys. Here is a recap:
Local Harvest has a neat tool that you can use to find a small scale turkey farmer near you. If you can’t make it to the farm I am always a fan of Whole Foods and their high quality meats. Read more about their strict turkey requirements here.
What makes this method so easy and different is that you massage the meat with a mixture of salt, brown sugar and herbs and let it chill uncovered for up to 24 hours. This allows the skin to dry out while tenderizing the meat as it “brines.” I covered mine for about 8 hours and then uncovered it for the rest of the day. This allowed it to self brine in its own juices for a while before drying. Don’t be shy about leaving your turkey uncovered in the refrigerator. Just make sure that nothing is touching the bird and that is has plenty of room.
What is your favorite turkey cooking method?
A Flexitarian Thanksgiving is coming together nicely. Here is what is on the menu so far:
Stay tuned for Vegan Gravy, Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and dessert!
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 large sprigs rosemary
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 6 inches kitchen twine
- 1-2 wood toothpicks
- Mix first six ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside 3 tablespoons of mixture for after brining.
- Using your hand, rub the cavity of the turkey with a large pinch of the salt mixture. Rub remaining mixture all over the bird until evenly coated.
- Place turkey in a clean plastic garbage bag chill in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. In the morning or after 8 hours, remove the plastic bag and allow turkey to chill for another 8 hours uncovered in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Before touching the turkey set up a station with your roasting pan, remaining salt mixture, prepared vegetables and herbs for stuffing and twine
- Drain turkey of any fluids that may have been extracted during brining and place on a rack set inside a roasting pan.
- Gently work fingers between the skin and the breast of the turkey. Rub salt mixture in the space created between skin and breast. Sprinkle any remaining mixture on top of the turkey breasts. Use toothpicks to hold skin in place.
- Fill cavity of the turkey with lemon quarters, onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Truss turkey legs together and fold under wings.
- Roast for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 165 in the thickest part of the thigh. Watch closely and tent with tin foil if the breasts starts to brown too much.