I am terrible at roasting a turkey and every year I have turkey drama. But this year was different - all thanks to a wonderful little invention called a roaster oven! You know, the kind in every church kitchen - yes, that thing! I spied this cooking device at a retail store in the mall about one month before the big day and decided to buy it and roast (several) chickens to try it out. Those experiments turned out some very moist chicken, but try as I might, the chicken did not brown.
As Thanksgiving day approached, my game plan was to put the bird in and not lift the lid until 45 minutes before it was scheduled to be done, and, if not browned, finish it in the oven. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The preparation before hand, I think had a lot to do with the end result.
I thawed my turkey early and dry brined it for 24 hours - starting Monday night until Tuesday night. After rinsing off the brine, I covered it with plastic and stashed it in the fridge until Wednesday around noon. I took off the plastic, made sure the bird was good a dry and put it back in the fridge to air dry until Thursday. On the big day, I pulled the turkey out of the fridge an hour before I planned to roast it and made sure to crank up the heat to the highest stetting on the roaster oven a half hour before tucking the bird in with some veggies (celery, carrot and onion) and a full glass of water. A word of caution, when putting your veg in, don't let them touch the sides of the roaster or they will burn. A half hour later, I turned the heat back to 375. I estimated 18 minutes per pound, because that is how long it would normally take in my oven, however, I found out that was WAY too long. That eleven pound puppy was done in less than three hours! But, here's the thing, because I stuck to my guns and did not lift the lid early this "over done" turkey should have been all dried out, right? Wrong! Even though my thermo pen registered over 175 degrees in the thigh and over 180 in the breast, it was still moist! I know, these are NOT good temperatures for turkey - they should have spelled disaster. Oh, and the other thing, it was beautifully browned. The combination of dry brining, air drying and the moist heat of that roaster turned out a great bird even though it was over cooked by normal standards. All I have to say is, I will always use a roaster when cooking a turkey and I will cook turkey more than once a year!
The best dry brine ever - I've used this for three years in a row!
The flash on my camera made this picture appear less brown than it was.