by Diane Rossen Worthington

Butterfly and Dry-Brine Your Turkey for Perfect Thanksgiving Feast

I have been roasting turkeys for longer than I can remember. When I tested this recipe, the turkey exceeded my expectations and happily fell into my Seriously Simple style. Dry-brining requires a very large sealable plastic bag and isn't a big to-do. And since you butterfly the turkey, it looks prettiest carved and arranged on a platter for serving. You will have to make your dressing in a separate casserole, but that's a small price to pay for this tasty turkey.

The secret to this juicy turkey is to dry brine it, which means coating the bird with a seasoning salt and letting it rest in a sealed plastic bag for 3 days. It is highly flavorful, with firm meat and crisp skin. Best of all, because it's butterflied, there is less cooking time. Think 2 1/2 hours instead of 4 or 5! You can butterfly the turkey yourself (see below) or have the butcher do it for you.

A few think-ahead notes:

-- Buy your turkey on Monday and begin dry-brining it Tuesday morning. Don't forget to turn it every 12 hours for even-brining.

-- Remember to use a heavy jelly-roll pan with a lip on it to catch the juices.

-- On Thanksgiving morning, transfer the turkey to the jelly roll pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to help crisp the skin.

-- An instant-read thermometer is a must to ensure a perfectly cooked bird. Know that the temperature will increase a few degrees while the turkey rests. This is also excellent served cold, and you won't need to make the gravy.

Butterflied, Dry-Brined Roast Turkey with Maple Butter

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 30 minutes

    Yield: Serves 10 to 14

Butterflied, Dry-Brined Roast Turkey with Maple Butter Ingredients


    Zest of 1 lemon

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried

    3 tablespoons seasoning salt

    One 14- to 16-pound turkey, butterflied (see below) and patted dry

    2 onions, sliced

    2 carrots, peeled and sliced

    2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

    1 cup chicken or turkey broth, plus more broth during roasting

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    1 teaspoon soy sauce


    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    4 cups of turkey or chicken broth

    1/2 cup apple brandy

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Lady apples for garnish

Butterflied, Dry-Brined Roast Turkey with Maple Butter Directions

    1. To make the rub: Three days before you cook the turkey, combine the lemon zest, thyme and seasoning salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Wash the turkey inside and out and pat dry all over.

    2. Place the butterflied turkey, skin-side down, on a sheet of foil or the rack of a roasting pan. Rub a tablespoon or so of the salt mixture all over the bird, making sure the meat is well coated. Turn the bird over, skin-side up, and rub the remaining salt mixture all over the bird, concentrating on the breast and thigh areas. Put the bird in a 2 1/2-gallon lock-top plastic bag and seal carefully. Refrigerate, turning every 12 hours and rubbing the salt in to coat it evenly, for 3 days.

    3. On the morning of the day you are going to cook the turkey, remove the turkey from the bag and place it, breast-side up, on a large rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pat the outside dry and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to help the skin dry further. Remove the turkey 1 hour before roasting to bring to room temperature.

    4. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Tuck the onion, carrot and apple slices underneath the turkey in an even layer. Combine the melted butter with the maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Brush the turkey with the basting mixture.

    5. Place the turkey in the center of the oven and roast it for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and roast for 1 more hour, basting occasionally with the accumulated pan juices and melted butter mixture. Reduce the heat to 325 F and roast for about another hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching bone, registers 170 F and the juices run clear. You may need to add more broth if the pan becomes too dry during roasting. If the bird is becoming too dark, place a tented piece of aluminum foil loosely on top. A 14- to 16-pound turkey should take a total cooking time of about 2 1/2 hours; be sure to check the temperature at 30-minute intervals as the finish time approaches.

    6. Remove the turkey from the oven and with 2 large spatulas, transfer it to a large carving board. Discard the vegetables and pour the drippings into a fat separator for the gravy. Cover the turkey lightly with foil, and let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

    7. To make the gravy: Melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, whisking until blended. Cook the roux for about 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add the broth and the defatted drippings and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the gravy is slightly thickened. Add the apple brandy and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the gravy loses its floury taste. Season with salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

    Advance Prep: Dry-brine the bird 3 days ahead and refrigerate. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.

    How To Butterfly a Turkey

    1. Put the turkey on a cutting board breast-side down. Using poultry shears or a chef's knife, cut along both sides of the backbone, removing a strip about 2 inches wide. Refrigerate the bone for making turkey stock or soup.

    2. You should have one long turkey piece. Turn the turkey over and with the heel of your hand press down with firm pressure on the breast bone to crack it. The goal is to have a flat bird.

    Alternate method: Have the butcher do it!



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