DRY-SALTED ROAST TURKEY

This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that is delicious as it is - but you can add other flavors as you wish. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting. At the L.A. Times, they held a comparative tasting among four turkeys: brined, steam-roasted, high heat roasted and dry salted. The winner was this one, dry salted - originally a technique from Judy Rogers of the Zuni Café in San Francisco. [A close second was the brined bird, which also had the best-browned result, but was not quite so firm in texture.] This technique is similar to brining, except that no water or other liquid is used. The turkey is just sprinkled with salt and allowed to stand for about 4 days. Within a couple of tries, Russ Parson and the Times’ tasting panel had perfected the amount of salt required and agreed that this turkey had the winning firm, meaty texture and deep, full flavor.

SERVES 11 TO 15
1 (12-to 16-pound) turkey
kosher salt (see below for amounts)

Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 3 tablespoons).

Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.

Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

Place the turkey in a 2 1/2-gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.

COOK’S NOTE: In more recent writings about this method, Russ Parsons has amended his directions to include placing the salted turkey, in its sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator, breast side up – then turning it each day (leaving it in the bag) and massaging the salt into the skin. He turns and massages the turkey once each day for three days. He then removes the turkey from the bag and proceeds as directed below.

Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it’s easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

Each of 15 servings: 564 calories; 77 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber, 26 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 261 mg. cholesterol; 856 mg. sodium

Recipe adapted from: Los Angeles Times, November, 2006 – authored by Russ Parsons