Cooking a turkey can seem like a daunting proposition but it does not have to be. It is just a matter of patience and some prepping. In this recipe we are going to dry brine a frozen turkey and let it brine as it thaws. This will save us 3 days and our turkey will be fantastic.
Dry brines are simply salt rubs that you apply to meats. The rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon for every 2 pounds of meat. There is no need to worry that the meat will be salty as it will actually penetrate it all the way to the bone and make it extremely moist and tasty. This is by far my favorite way to prepare a turkey.
Once the turkey is ready you will need to let it sit at room temperature so that it loses its chill. You never want to cook a large piece of meat without doing this as it will not cook uniformly.
I always start cooking my turkey with the breast down and at a very high oven. I find that this browns the back of the bird but also locks in the breast juices. Once that is done I reduce the oven and finish cooking it. You will have to flip the turkey over after the first 45 minutes of cooking. To do this simply grab both sides with clean dish rags and flip it quickly. Please be careful not to burn yourself.
This is how to cook a turkey perfectly every time:
1 – 10 pound turkey — frozen
FOR THE BRINE:
5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
Mix all the ingredients together and rub generously on both sides of the turkey. If you are working with a thawed turkey be extra generous on the breast area and inside the thighs and salt the cavity.
Place the turkey in a large bag inside a pan and remove all the air. Tie it and refrigerate it.
On day two – remove turkey from refrigerator and rub it on both sides. Do not remove the bag.
On day three – repeat the process but leave the turkey breast side down. That night, remove the turkey from the bag and dry it thoroughly with paper towels. Place it on a rack inside a roasting pan and return it to the refrigerator uncovered. This will allow the fans in the fridge to dry up the skin.
On the fourth day – remove the turkey from the refrigerator and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Remove the giblets and neck. Leave the turkey on the counter top for about an hour to allow it to reach room temperature.
START COOKING THE TURKEY:
4 to 5 parsley sprigs
½ small onion – peeled
1 celery stalk with leaves – halved
1 cup melted unsalted butter — divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Pat dry the turkey one more time and fill the cavity with the parsley, onion and celery. Tie the legs with kitchen twine if they are loose.
Brush the front with 1/4th cup melted butter and flip the turkey. Brush with the another 1/4th cup of melted butter.
Leave the turkey breast side down and place in the hot oven for 45 minutes. Do not cover the pan.
Remove the turkey from the oven and turn down the heat to 325 degrees F (160 C). Immediately close the oven door to keep the heat inside it.
Very carefully flip the turkey. Please do not burn yourself. I use two clean kitchen towels to flip mine.
Return the turkey to the oven for another 45 minutes – uncovered.
Remove the turkey from the oven and brush the top with the remaining butter. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven again and baste it with the pan juices. Brush a generous amount of the chili sauce (the recipe is below) on it and cover the pan. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Remove turkey from oven, baste with the pan juices and add a thin layer of your now very thick glaze. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh area close to the bone. Your turkey will be done when that reads 170 degrees F (76 C). You should be pretty close to that by now.
Return the turkey to the oven for another 20 minutes. Make sure to monitor the skin. The glaze might start to burn in which case you should cover the pan.
Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it off. Cover the roasting pan and return the turkey to the offed oven with the door ajar for 20 minutes before carving. This will allow all the juices to settle.
Carve and serve with the hot chili sauce on the side.
FOR THE CHILI GLAZE:
4 chili guajillo dry pods – stemmed and seeded
4 chili arbol dry pods – stemmed
¼ of a small onion – peeled
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cider vinegar
½ cup honey
A little bit of salt
Place the chili pods in a dry hot skillet. Press the chilies down and char them slightly. Transfer them to a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Weigh them down with a small plate and let them soak for 30 minutes.
Place the soaked chilies in a blender with the onion, garlic cloves and 1 cup of the liquid they soaked in. Add the cloves, cumin and oregano and blend until you have a smooth paste.
Strain the blended chilies into a small pot. Add the cider vinegar and the honey. Add the salt and pepper and mix well. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until it thickens and reduces. After you add sauce to the turkey continue simmering until you have a marmalade consistency. Remove from heat.