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Nov 22, 2005 10:21 AM

Question for Carb Lover re: Turkey

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Carb Lover, inspiration for all things Zuni: I'm tired of wrestling big birds in and out of salty baths so this year I'm trying the Zuni improvised pre-salt method that you talked about awhile back. Question: Do I leave the salted turkey sitting in the fridge uncovered for 3-4 days (we're having Thanksgiving on Friday this year)? And are you preheating the pan/not using a rack when you roast it?

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  1. I would cover it loosely w/ plastic wrap. By loosely, I mean that you shouldn't make it a point to seal the edges tightly and should also leave one opening for air to circulate. Just check it each morning and see if any adjusting is necessary if it looks too dry or too wet. If it looks a little dewy the night before you plan to roast, then you can uncover it completely. Make sure to dab off excess moisture all over before roasting.

    I don't plan to use a rack. My pan isn't a heavy-duty one that can go on the stovetop so I think I'm going to pre-heat in the oven and add a little olive oil at the bottom before putting the bird on top.

    As far as amount of salt, I plan on using the 3/4 tsp. kosher per pound of meat that I normally use, but I'm going to use a little less during pre-salting and then finish w/ the remainder right before roasting since I like some whole salt crystals on the skin too. Also plan to pre-season w/ some chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) spread out underneath the skin. Will rub on a little olive oil before roasting.

    I honestly have no idea how the Zuni dry-cure method will translate to a turkey, but I'm looking forward to finding out. While it's experimental, it's really not all that radical and should be good to great. We're having T-giving elsewhere and not doing much of the cooking, so I won't roast my turkey til Sun. or Mon. night after we've returned. Please report back on your experience!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      Thanks for the quick reply, Carb Lover. My fingers are crossed, my turkey is salted and herbed and sitting lightly covered in the fridge, and I'm assuming/hoping my guests will devour it regardless of the outcome.They're a pretty ravenous bunch.Is there some obvious reason I shouldn't use a rack?
      Thanks again. I'll report back.

      1. re: Noeldottir

        Glad to hear the process is underway! BTW, I would add a little black pepper too if you haven't...not so much since it can be overpowering after curing a few days.

        About the rack, I think that's optional. No harm in using it, and I'm sure many do. My main reason for omitting is that I've found that the Zuni chicken crisps better on the bottom when it's sitting in its own fat...that whole idea of self-basting. I also like the idea of one less tool to fiddle with and wash.

        1. re: Noeldottir

          I'm looking forward to those reports!

          Because I cook a 22-24 pound bird, dry-brining might not be an option for me (and I really like the citrus/herb flavor imparted by my "wet" brine). But, I'm always open to learning, and trying new methods....