As the holiday season approaches, the question inevitably comes up for a moist and juicy turkey… “to brine or not to brine?”
Now, I am a fan of brining and have had some great success with both wet and dry brining. But, truth be told, I’m not always as planned and thoughtful as required, to get an early jump on brining the bird.
So option number 3 (for me), is to dry rub the bird and put it in the fridge uncovered (on a rack, over a sheet pan) for about an hour. From the fridge, it goes straight into the convection oven at 390°F for 20 minutes to really dry the skin.
It’s then rubbed well with good quality olive oil and cooked for another 20 minutes, before lowering the temperature and basting with hot broth. This unstuffed 14.5 pound bird was cooked in about 2 3/4 hours, with crispy skin and moist, juicy meat as a result.
Are you a briner? If yes, do you prefer wet or dry brine? If no, any secrets you want to share for your roasted turkey? Would love to know in the comments below?
- 1 (10 to 12 pound) young fresh, local turkey
- Dry rub (recipe below)
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- I garlic bulb halved
- I large sprig of rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting
- 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 turkey neck
- 3 turkey backs (skin and excess fat removed) or 2 turkey wings
- 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- ½ tablespoon whole pepper corns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 6 cups turkey stock, chicken stock, or no salt added chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups turkey broth
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dry rub:
Add the kosher salt, thyme and rosemary to a mortal & pestle and crush into a powder. Add the paprika, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and mixed to combine.
Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve neck for gravy. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels inside and out. Season well inside and out with the dry rub, ensuring to get into all the creases and crevices.
Place the turkey on a rack over a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 12 hours.
Preheat the convection oven to 390°F (or conventional oven to 415°F)
Stuff the turkey with the garlic, celery, rosemary & thyme. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string and fold the wings underneath the bird. Place the turkey on a flat rack over a shallow roasting pan and cooked for 20 minutes.
I used my Hestan Culinary Wok which has a FLAT bottom, please don’t try this with rounded bottom woks! I believe the rounded shape of the wok, focuses the heat directly on the sides of the bird to create even browning.
Remove from oven and brush all over (including underneath) with olive oil. Rotate the pan 180°, return to oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Lower the temperature to convection oven to 300°F (or conventional oven to 325°F), baste with 1/3 cup broth. Roast the turkey, uncovered (basting every 30 minutes) until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165°F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. If skin starts to brown too much, place tinfoil over darkest spots leaving lighter areas uncovered. Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
For the turkey broth:
Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the turkey neck and backs (or wings) to the pan and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the chopped vegetables and peppercorns to the pan and sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Pour the stock and water into the pan, add the rosemary and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the stock is reduced to 6 cups, about 1 hour. Strain the stock into a clean pot or large measuring cup.
For the gravy:
Heat the broth in a saucepan over medium heat. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock ½ cup at a time, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Seasoning, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Once the turkey is cooked and resting, pour the turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat. Add the pan juice to the gravy and stir to combine. Serve hot gravy with carved turkey.
Making the broth 2 days ahead, means any fat in the broth can easily be removed as it congeals on top while in the fridge. (Make the gravy weeks before and freeze in Ziploc bags until ready to use).
Making the gravy the day before lowers the stress of turkey day and keeps the kitchen cleaner. Just reheat and add the pan juices.
In addition to this Roasted Turkey and Gravy recipe, you can find more of my favourite turkey recipes here.