Last Minute Dry Brining Turkey

fresh herbs

I didn’t have a plan to blog about the preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner. Like my meal planning, it was a spur of the moment thing, in case it might be of help to someone else. One of the things about being an “on the fly” cook is doing last-minute searches for recipes. Which usually works out okay, but sometimes leaves me in a bind. Which is where I found myself when it came time to brine the turkey. This year I wanted to try dry brining (although “dry brining” is a bit of a misnomer, since the definition of brining is to immerse in water). That idea was much more appealing, since I left my “brining bucket” in Missouri and didn’t really want to go buy something to replace it. Dry brining it would be then. Everything was going according to the spur-of-the-moment plan.

Except when I started searching for a recipe to dry brine, I started seeing phrases like “3 days in advance.” This is Wednesday, tomorrow is Thanksgiving; I don’t have 3 days. Can I do a 24 hour brine? Another problem is, the turkey is about half frozen. Off to google I go. Frozen turkey? Not a problem! Simply run under cold water enough to get the innards out and proceed as planned. Well, in theory. Again, this is for someone who still has 3 days left to brine their turkey. After much searching, I found a recipe that calls for a 24 hour dry brine. Sounded good to me! So I did a mishmash of sorts, compiling all the info I’d read (and could remember) and got the innards out of the turkey, mixed up some fresh spices I had on hand, and off I went. Will it turn out okay? I won’t know that till tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to report complete success. But, for now, I’ll do what I always do; fly by the seat of my pants and put this post up for others who are frantically doing last minute searches and feeling brave enough to blindly follow in my footsteps.

1 turkey (14 lbs)
2 Tbs sea salt (’cause I don’t have kosher)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
bag to put turkey in
container to set bag in
fridge to put container in

Prepare turkey by washing, drying, and removing any gizzards, neck, etc., from the cavities.

uncooked turkey

The fresh herbs are what I had on hand. You can use any you like, fresh or dry, in any combination. From what I understand, it goes something like this:

1 TBS salt for each 5 lbs of turkey
1 tsp each spice for each 5 lbs of turkey
Pepper according to taste

Just don’t hold me to that.

I was in a rush, so I kept it simple.
Combine salt and spices in a bowl.

brining spices

Rub mixture all over turkey, covering well, then place in plastic bag and place in container. Unless you want to get all fancy, and put things like apples and oranges and whatnot inside the turkey. Or you may want to loosen the skin on the breast and legs and run your spice mixture around in there. Feel free to get creative. But I do have to say, I have it on pretty good authority that it’s not necessary to go to all that bother. Place container in fridge.

brining turkey

My plan tomorrow is to take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit out at room temp, about 1-2 hours, wipe off any excess (as in, excessive looking) salt, give it a butter rub-down (including under the skin), then roast at 425o for 30 minutes, then turn heat to 325o and continue cooking till done. This, according to my calculations, should take about 2 1/2 – 3 hours total.
Oh, I also plan to roast it upside down this year, since I won’t be stuffing it. I understand this helps the breast to be even juicier. Or I may just put it in the rotisserie, like I’d originally planned. So now I’m looking forward to actually fixing this bird. I hope I get to update with a nice turkey picture. However it turns out, it won’t affect how I celebrate this Thanksgiving:
I’ll be giving thanks to God for all His many blessings!

Turkey Update: Took the turkey out of the fridge and took it out of the bag. It has a pink look to it, sort of rosy, if you will. The salt that was on the bird is all absorbed. In fact, there was hardly any moisture on the turkey. I did blot the little bit there was and set it back in the dish on the counter. I’ll let it come to room temp or close to it (probably about an hour and a half). I feel comfortable doing this, because A) it was a pasture raised turkey and, B) this is what the instructions call for when dry brining. I’m leaning towards the rotisserie, because of the crispier skin. More to come…

turkey resting

Second Update: Took some finagling, but got the (almost 14 lb) turkey on the rotisserie spit rods. Decided to use some ghee for the rub down. I’m feeling upbeat about this turkey!

Turkey on the spit

About 20 minutes later:

more turkey

I hope this post has helped anyone else who may be frantically searching for last minute turkey prep. Here’s the final result:

turkey's done

Final word on taste coming soon!

It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. Moist, flavorful…mmm! I’ll be doing the next turkey the very same way.

Thanksgiving dinner

I hope anyone that was following along and actually using this page for their turkey had equally good results.

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade.

2 Responses to Last Minute Dry Brining Turkey

  1. Amanda E says:

    Thank you. I plan on following in your footsteps later today…hosting the “meal of the year” is not an easy task. I should have taken the last few days off for my mental health, but your instructions have given me hope — and if all else fails, we have pie!

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