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How to Pre-Salt a Turkey

See What's Better Than Brining: Pre-Salting

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Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey

Photo © Molly Watson

Ever wonder what all the fuss brining turkey is about? Well, know that there is a better way – get rid of the "brine" and simple salt your bird for the juiciness, most flavorful turkey you've ever had, whether you roast or grill it.

  1. Cover the turkey - over and under the skin as much as possible – with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. It will seem like a lot. Don't worry: most of it will fall or cook off.
  2. Use about 1/4 of the salt inside the cavities of the bird, and the rest over the entire turkey, working salt under the skin on the breast and thighs as much as possible.
  3. Put the turkey in a large bowl or roasting pan, cover, and chill for at least over night and up to four days. At least 12 hours and up to 24 hours before cooking, uncover, pat dry, and leave uncovered to help the skin dry out (this will help ensure a crispy, brown skin when the bird is cooked.
  4. Roast your turkey as you see fit. I like to rub mine with about 1/4 cup of room temperature butter, lay bacon or pancetta across the breast, pour about a cup of dry white wine in the pan, and start the whole thing off at about 400. After 30 minutes I turn the oven down to 350 and roast - basting with pan juices and maybe 1/4 cup of port at a time every half hour or when it occurs to me – until the legs wobble and everything is fully cooked and browned and lovely. Then I take it out, cover it with foil, and let it sit while I finish the rest of the dishes, usually about 45 minutes or so. Then I carve it, serve it, and wait for someone to toast me.

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