After much research, deliberation and conversation over how to prepare a Kosher turkey, I decided upon a recipe published in the New York Times for my first ever roast turkey. What was all the to-do for? Supposedly, you shouldn’t brine a Kosher turkey the traditional way (liquid brine) as it will make your turkey too salty. The acceptable way to brine a Kosher turkey is the dry-brine.
A dry-brine is what’s known in the world of barbecue or meat preparation as a salt rub. You need to start “brining” your kosher turkey two days before you prepare it.
- 1 12 to 16-pound turkey
- 1/2 c. kosher salt, more if needed
- black pepper
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 small apples, cored and halved
- 1/2 c. butter, sliced
- 1 c. water
- 1/2 c. white wine
- Two days before roasting, pat turkey dry. Rub all over with kosher salt, slipping salt under skin where possible and rubbing some into cavities.
- Wrap bird securely in a large plastic bag or in Saran wrap and place in refrigerator on a platter or plate. After 24 hours, turn turkey over.
- A couple of hours before cooking, remove turkey from bag and pat dry. Place in roasting pan and allow to come to room temperature.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle half the pepper into the main cavity of turkey; add thyme, parsley, most the onions and apple. Truss legs with kitchen twine. Put remaining apples and onion in neck opening and tuck neck skin under bird. Secure with toothpicks, if necessary.
- Place slices of butter in various places on top the turkey. Sprinkle bird with remaining pepper.
- Roast for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover breast of bird and wing tips with foil. Add water and white wine to bottom of roasting pan and roast bird for another two hours, begin testing the bird for doneness after two hours. Remove foil in last half-hour so breast browns.
- The turkey is done when the thigh is about 160 degrees when tested in two different places. When roasting is done, tip turkey so interior juices run back into pan. Remove turkey to a separate baking sheet or serving platter, cover with foil and then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Pour fat and drippings from pan into a measuring cup. Deglaze pan with white wine or broth and pour that into same measuring cup. Fat and drippings can then be used to make gravy.
After much wine and the stress of cooking all damn day long, I was a bit buzzed and tired by the time the turkey was about ready to come out of the oven. I removed the turkey after exactly two and a half hours only to find that the bird was 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when poked in the thigh!
I was pissed. My first turkey was dry and ruined. I forewent the tenting of the turkey since clearly my turkey did not need any additional cooking outside the oven and just let the turkey “rest” for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I threw a bunch of the sides into the oven and tried to prepare the pan gravy so everything would be done at the same time. Remember, though, that I had been drinking wine. This does not help the timing factor.
Prior to pulling the bird from the oven, I had announced to my dad that I planned on carving my own turkey this year – obviously since I had roasted it. I glanced at a carving guide for a moment before diving into my turkey. I got through the first leg (not easily removing it from the bird), got pissed that the meat was dry, and asked my dad to take over. He laughed at my mini temper tantrum.
And then something funny happened. As my dad was carving the turkey he announced that the turkey in fact was not dry. It was perfectly moist. I thought he was pulling my leg. But no. No he wasn’t. The turkey turned out perfect – even the breast meat, which tends to dry out easily on a turkey.
I’m not sure why my turkey only took 2 1/2 hours to roast. By my estimation, a 13-pound turkey should have taken either 3 or 3 1/2 hours. I’m not going to ask any questions, however. My first roast turkey turned out perfect. Beginner’s luck? Maybe. Or maybe it was the dry brine (rub) that ensured a moist bird even at 180 degrees.