Russ Parsons, Food Editor at the LA Times, spends the weeks before Thanksgiving converting wet brine believers to his dry-brine technique. The so-called “Judy Bird” (named in honor of Judy Rogers of San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe) requires only a few tablespoons of salt and a sealable plastic bag. Wet brining can involve a bucket of brining solution and a bobbing turkey which is hard to make room for when your fridge is stocked with sides.
Russ shares his love of dry-bringing tomorrow on the show so we thought we’d share his recipe, first published in the LA Times, with you below…
Russ Parsons’ Dry-Brined Turkey (a.k.a. the ‘Judy Bird’)
Note: 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.
1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
1. 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).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Cook the turkey however you usually roast your Thanksgiving bird.