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Dry-Brining a turkey

Last year, in the LA Times, Russ Parsons published an article about dry-brining vs regular brining and dry-brining was declared the winner. The link to that article is not longer up, does anyone know of a good dry-brine recipe for a 12-14 lb turkey?

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  1. Here's a link to Russ Parsons Nov 17, 2006 LA Times article reprinted at a different newspaper.

    "A Thanksgiving turkey worth its salt - Russ Parsons"

    Here is a paraphrased version of the final, successful technique used by Russ Parsons to Dry Brine a Turkey:

    Dry Brined Turkey

    Buy an unprocessed or non-enhanced turkey of about 12 to 16 pounds.

    Salting works like brining, without the water. Just sprinkle the turkey with kosher salt, then store it in the fridge for 4-days for a 12- to 16-pound bird. At first, the salt pulls moisture from the meat, but as time passes, almost all of those juices are reabsorbed, bringing the salt along with them.

    Salt a 12-16 lb thawed turkey with 1-Tbs kosher salt for every 5-lbs of bird. Concentrate the distribution of salt on the thickest parts of the meat, the breast and the thigh.

    Store salted turkey in fridge in a 2-1/2-gallon sealed plastic bag.

    After three days, remove turkey from bag. There should be no salt visible on the skin surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place turkey, breast side up on a platter. Return to fridge and allow the turkey air-dry in the refrigerator overnight, prior to cooking.

    Preheat the oven to 425 F. Brush melted butter over all of the turkey and cook bird uncovered. Do not stuff turkey. Do not baste the turkey during cooking.

    Start the salted bird at 425 degrees, breast-side down. After 30 minutes, flip the bird right side up and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees for the remainder of the cooking.

    For doneness, you are aiming for a final temperature of 165 degrees measured in the deepest part of the thigh.

    A 15-lb turkey should take roughly 3-hours to cook.

    Let the bird sit and rest for 30 minutes after removing from oven, to finish cooking and enable the juices to redistribute evenly through the meat prior to slicing and serving.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Antilope

      A question~ I roasted a small Trader Joe's Brined turkey yesterday just in order to make my stock ahead for Thanksgiving, (and have some sandwiches!). I always deconstruct my turkey, (even on Thanksgiving, sorry Norman Rockwell) taking off the legs and removing the backbone of the breast, so that I can cook the turkey in less than 2 hours. I seasoned it with sea salt and smoked paprika, and didn't think it was salty tasting, but I did think the skin could benefit from the drying process. Do you think I can use this Parson's method with an already brined turkey, maybe cutting down on the salt in the rub slightly? Guess I'm not ready to let go of the wet brining process, but the simplicity of the dry brining intrigues me.

      1. re: donali

        When I wet brined, I always let the turkey dry out for a day (in the fridge) to get a crispier skin. It always worked well.

        This year, I'm trying the dry brine for the first time. I've made that zuni chicken for years. Can't believe I never tried it on a turkey. Although, this will be first turkey since 2006.

      2. re: Antilope

        Will coarse kosher salt work with the dry brine technique or do I need to buy some finer salt? What if I blend the coarse salt with herbs before brining?

        Wet brining is so messy! I'm looking forward to trying dry brining.


        1. re: rtms

          I use regular kosher salt and that works fine. You definitely can blend it with herbs, I've done that. I seem to recall fresh thyme and some lemon zest.

          1. re: rtms

            kosher salt is preferred (easier to sprinkle in a measured way). use a mortar and pestle to grind herbs/flavorings with the salt if you want ... thyme and lemon is good; i also like orange zest and pimenton.

        2. Dundie, today's LA Times (Wednesday, November 14, 2007) features Russ Parsons' "The Ulimate Turkey" Recipe on Page F6. Note that Russ Parson changed his cooking method from his recipe last year.

          This year's cooking method -- Bake Breastside down for 30 minutes at 325 F; Turn Turkey Breastside up for an additional 1.5 hours at 325 F. Then increase oven to 425 F and roast until temperature in the deepest part of the thigh reaches 160 F (about an additional 20-30 minutes).

          Last year's cooking method -- Bake Breastside up for 30 minutes at 425 F. Reduce oven to 325 F, turn Turkey Breastside up and roast until the temperature in the deepest part of the thigh reaches 165 F.

          1. I always cook the turkey (usually 12-15 lbs) at 400 the whole time turning it a few times: 40 minutes breast down, 15 on one side, 15 on the other side, and then breast up for 45 minutes. It's amazing that a 14 lb bird is done in under 2 hours, is crispy brown and juicy (I always brine) and perfectly cooked all the way through every time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: plafield

              Do you use a rack? If so, does the breast get rack marks from being upside down?

            2. Interesting. The Washington Post just had an article today that said wet brining was better:


              1 Reply
              1. re: chowser

                The writer from the Washington Post did it wrong, though. She rubbed the salt under the skin, which created pockets of saltiness, as opposed to rubbing it on top of the skin, which makes for a more even brine.

              2. I used this method last year after many years of brining. The turkey was just as juicy as with the brining method and had a better texture. Flavorwise it was better. It was also much less labor intensive than dealing with all the water and ice. It just requires a little more advance planning. I won't ever brine again.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tinitime

                  Same situation with our turkey this year. It's dry brine from now on!

                2. We did an early Thanksgiving this year and rubbed salt on our 13 lb turkey, let it sit, uncovered, for about 3 days in the fridge, then rinsed off the brine, stuffed it, and roasted it as usual - no ungainly flipping. (Flipping a chicken is easy. Notsomuch a turkey). Very flavorful, very moist.

                  1. For those of you who have tried this method, HELP! My salt has already disappeared--there was nothing to "redistribute" as the recipe called for. Is this supposed to happen, and should I add more salt?


                    11 Replies
                    1. re: beingreen

                      I have never dry-brined a turkey, however, when I make Zuni chicken, the salt disappears into the chicken prior to cooking. So I think you're good.

                      1. re: beingreen

                        I'm in the midst of doing this too, and my salt also disappeared, so I just sort of massaged the turkey. Also, after my mom made me anxious about this, I'm freaking out a little about whether having the turkey unfrozen and in the fridge for so long before cooking will be safe (and I'm usually not a food safety worrywart!). No one has had issues with this, right?

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          I did it last year and it was fine. It's not as if it's out on the counter or anything.

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            I've got a different question about the dry brining, guys. I didn't read the directions enough ahead of time, and didn't realize that the turkey should sit for 4 days. I'm getting my (fresh) turkey TONIGHT (Tuesday) !
                            My question is -
                            Should I just forget about the brining this year, and roast my turkey the old-fashioned way? I'm afraid of not dry-brining the turkey long enough, and trying to cook it when the salt has been all pulled out of it, you know what I mean?
                            Thanks for any help!!

                            1. re: aurora50

                              I would still do it, especially since the last day is just for it to sit outside the bag in the fridge for the skin to get crisp. For the Zuni chicken recipe (which this is basically based on), it recommends a three day brine for the chicken, but I've done it for a day, and it's still great and not too salty. You can either just get up super early Thursday morning to take it out of the bag so that it can do the dry in the fridge during the day, or just forget about that and dry your turkey off really well with paper towels when you give it the hour long sit outside of the fridge to come to temperature, and it'll be fine.

                              1. re: JasmineG

                                Great! One more question, Jasmine -
                                - Since there might be a little salt left over this way, should I be careful when seasoning the turkey? I usually salt liberally with Lawry's Seasoned Salt -

                                1. re: aurora50

                                  After dry brining, I would not salt the turkey at all. If you want to add other seasonings, fine, but you've already salted it, no need to add more.

                                  1. re: aurora50

                                    Lord no! No more salt. However, I plan to stuff some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage if it's not dead yet) under the skin at the same time I salt. I've never had a dry-brined Zuni chicken come out too salty, but you DO need to carefully monitor the salt in your gravy. Since the drippings may be quite salty, don't salt your stock or use very salty canned stock. Wait until the gravey is completely made before you taste to correct seasoning.

                            2. re: JasmineG

                              It kind of weirds me out , too. But when I asked the Whole Foods people about picking up my turkey, whether to get it Wed or Fri (i won't cook it til Sunday), they said it didn't make any difference. They get all their turkeys at once and it will be sitting , thawed but chilled either in WF fridge or mine. I've been told the same thing in the past at other stores.

                              1. re: danna

                                Okay, good, I said something similiar to my mom, but I had the feeling that I was just making that up. Thanks for the reassurance!

                          2. I have another question about this -- with this cooking method, should the turkey be trussed or not? It doesn't say anywhere, and I can't really tell which way to go.

                            1. Okay, I used the LA Times method to dry brine a 12-lb turkey. The results were phenomenal.

                              I smoked the turkey in my weber kettle at 325F to 350F until the thigh temperature was 175F. I used the indirect heat method, with a 9"x13" pan of water under the turkey on the charcoal grate, and charcoal on each side of the pan.

                              My family loved the turkey and said it was the best flavor and texture they had ever had.

                              I will be using the dry brining method in the future if I only want to salt brine a turkey. Wet brining is still useful for adding other flavors, if desired.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Antilope

                                At that temp, how did the breasts turn out? I fried my turkey to 168F thigh, and it seemed that the breasts were a wee bit overdone. Not bad at all, but a just a bit overdone, even with injecting a butter concoction.

                                1. re: rudeboy

                                  The breast meat was juicy, not dry at all. I always cook the thigh to 175F. One time I cooked the thigh to 165F and the joints were a little raw. Wanted to avoid doing that again.

                              2. My dry brined turkey was absolutely excellent, and I think that I'm going to do this from now on. I even did the massaging the salt into the turkey every day part of the recipe, even though I felt a little goofy doing it, and my turkey really was a beautiful even brown everywhere. I didn't add any herbs to the salt, but before putting the turkey in the oven I tucked slices of a thyme, pepper and sage compound butter under the skin, which worked well.

                                1. I also tried a dry brine this year ..... I only did it for 12 hours plus, though. Somewhere I saw this number - rather than the 3 days others have mentioned re: Russ Parsons. I air dried the bird for one day in the fridge. Stuffed the cavity with some veggies and herbs. Did not truss my bird and cooked it using the indirect heat method in my Weber kettle. I used hickory chips to get a nice smoke flavor. I'll be doing this again next year.
                                  See my post for more details .....

                                  1. I notice that no one is stuffing the dry-braised turkey. Is there some reason for this? I would like to try it stuffed. Any thoughts? Also, I'm doing an 18 pounder. Thoughts?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: rj1

                                      I can tell you that with respect to a wet brined turkey, stuffing the turkey can result in overly salty stuffing.

                                      1. re: sbp

                                        FWIW< I've stuffed a many wet brine turkey and it was okay-not salty at all. I have heard it said that is does make stuffing and gravy salty-not my experience.

                                        I am also doing a dry brine for first time on an 18 pounder. It's been in the fridge since yesterday and have to say she looks bad-skin is mottled-especially over the dark meat-sort of blue/red-thought she was rotting. That can't be possible. right? Hopefully the color will improve and she will perk up a bit.

                                        Anyway, if she survives to Thursday, I'll stuff and roast. Think I read some other posts on one of the many many threads on this subject supporting stuffing.

                                        Worried about the uncovered last day in the fridge-won't she absorb funky fridge odors?

                                        1. re: Densible

                                          Densible, I'm curious as to how your turkey turned out!

                                    2. I'm thinking of switching to dry-brined (for many years now I've wet brined) my T-day turkey, for anyone out there who has used both techniques, which would you say produces the LEAST salty meat and gravy? And, I usually rub herbed butter under the skin, will that work/help/hurt with a dry brined bird?

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: qianning

                                        I've always wet brined, and it has never produced an even slightly salty turkey, nor affected the stuffing seasoning.

                                        I'm all for butter under the skin; I add herbs to mine, except for deep frying the turkey.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          I've used both, and much prefer dry brined, but I don't think that either produces a particularly salty bird or gravy. I always tuck herbed butter under the skin as well; butter always makes things tasty, though with the dry brined bird it's a little easier to tuck the butter under the skin after taking it out of the plastic bag and before the day for it to dry in the fridge; the skin is more pliable then, and it's easier to rip after the day of drying in the fridge.

                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            I've tried wet-brining once or twice before, and it turned out kind of wierd and spongy. Has anyone else had this happen to them?

                                            1. re: aurora50

                                              That hasn't happened to me, but I've definitely heard other people complain of that.

                                              1. re: aurora50

                                                That happens if you brine for too long, it looks and feels like turkey loaf from a bad deli.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Alright, you sold me right there. I'm terrified of deli "turkey." Dry brine it is for me! Now I just need to call the butcher and arrange to pick up the turkey earlier than expected.

                                                2. re: aurora50

                                                  Yes. That's one reason why I don't brine (wet or dry) poultry. I notice the LA Times recipe says rub the salt on the skin, not under it. I don't think a dry rub (can't use that term "dry brine") will penetrate the skin, the loose connective tissue between skin and meat and then through several inches of meat in 3 days. In fact, I think Mr. Parsons is happy with his recipe because all he's done is make the skin really delicious and not messed up the meat by adding a lot of salt and excess water. Let's see him do a blind taste test with his recipe compared with the same except the rub applied 30 minutes prior to cooking, or just a typical roasted bird.

                                                  1. re: Zeldog

                                                    He did blind tests the first year before publishing the recipe, against turkeys cooked in three different ways, and the tasters all liked the dry brined best.

                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                      Yes, but he tested vs 3 very different methods of cooking and messed up one of those by overcooking. The two other methods were brined/cooked at 375 (same temp as the dry rubbed), and not brined/cooked at 425. The brined turkey was "spongy". Yep, sounds like a typical brined turkey to me. And the breasts of the high temp bird were dry and the dark meat underdone. Gosh, who would expect a big bird like a turkey would not cook evenly at such a high temperature?

                                                      What he didn't compare is a 3-day salt cure (to his credit he didn't call it "dry-brined" back then) vs a bird salted just prior to cooking and cooked at the same temperature. My challenge stands. And no skin allowed in the taste test. I know the skin will be especially yummy, but the question is whether the meat tastes better.

                                                      1. re: Zeldog

                                                        He didn't say that he didn't flavor the meat that he roasted at 425 -- maybe you should email him and ask. I've done non brined turkeys that I've salted 30 minutes before putting in the oven, wet brined, and his method, and his method is definitely my favorite.

                                                3. re: JasmineG

                                                  I started the dry brining process late Wed night for a belated Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (Sunday.) I had really wanted to season with lemon and rosemary but I missed the suggestion to make a seasoned salt to use for the brining. Instead, I made a compound butter but, because I really wanted a lot of flavor, I really added A LOT of lemon zest and rosemary. Maybe too much-- zest of 3 lemons and rosemary from 4 healthy sprigs. And a stick of salted butter. I'm starting to think I've gone about this all wrong.

                                                  Is salted butter a poor choice for this dry-brined bird? Did I use too much lemon and rosemary? Will it be too much flavor at the skin and nothing throughout?

                                                  Joy of Cooking recommend lemon juice for their flavored butter and only a tablespoon of rosemary per stick of butter. Its not too late to remake it (though I'd hate to waste it if it might be okay.) Any advice? I start drying tonight.

                                                  1. re: globalgourmand

                                                    To answer my own question and report back-- I added about a half stick of unsalted butter and a few cloves of crushed garlic to my seasoned butter which had been sitting, covered in the fridge for a few days. After uncovering my bird to dry in the fridge for a few days, I shoved ALL that butter under the skin over the breasts.

                                                    It was the best home-roast turkey I've ever had. Lovely lemon, garlic, and rosemary nuanced over true turkey flavor; tender, pretty moist, beautiful, and SO easy. My guests raved.

                                                    As others have said-- I will never not prep poultry another way again.

                                                    ...and I look forward to years of experimenting with this already superior method for years to come!

                                              2. Apparently Russ Parsons has continued to "tweak" his dry "brined' method and has written a 2009 update:


                                                Sorry Alton, your "real" brining has made our "best-ever birds" for three years running, but I think I'll gamble and try the dry prep this year for comparison.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                  Anyone try using flavored salts such as Russ references in his article?

                                                  1. re: jamlaur

                                                    question for those who have done this. If you put it in a bag, and the salt draws moisture from the meat, and is supposed to redraw this moisture back in (a process I am familiar with, I presalt all my steaks), hwo does it redraw the moisture if it's sitting at the bottom of a bag?

                                                    jamlaur, I have made flavored salts before when roasting chickens. one of my favorites is lemon zest and rosemary. I put it right in with the salt in a mortar pestle and start pounding away.

                                                    1. re: deeznuts

                                                      when i did it, there was not so much moisture. just a bit.

                                                      1. re: deeznuts

                                                        So I am going to experiment with the dry cure but in addition to the salt, I am going to use the aromatics from my wet brine recipe that I love that was originally in Food & Wine 1994 called a "A Chef's Thanksgiving". It always gets rave reviews and even though the original recipe is a wet brine-it is never too salty to stuff or make gravy with. But I am intrigued with the eas of the dry approach. So here is what I just rubbed on (for a 14lb bird):

                                                        Toasted together in a dry skillet til brown and aromatic:
                                                        1 1/2 T fennel seeds
                                                        1 large dried chile
                                                        1/2 T of whole allspice berries
                                                        1/2 T of whole black peppercorns
                                                        1T Thyme
                                                        1/2 t of juniper berries crushed (I love these-gives kind of a gin flavor)
                                                        7 whole cloves

                                                        After these are toasted I grind them in a little electric coffee grinder. ( I usually make a double recipe and add some in the stuffing as well).

                                                        The bird smells heavenly. If anybody is interested. you can check back after T-day and I will let you know how it was. I love the recipe because it isn't traditional but is still has an autumn kind of flavor to it..

                                                        1. re: jpie

                                                          jpie - could you post the original brine recipe? I've used it before (turkey comes out super moist), but I can't find the recipe anymore! Thanks!

                                                        2. re: deeznuts

                                                          I seasoned mine with lemon zest, minced fresh rosemary, thyme and kosher salt yesterday. The small puddle of juice that was under the turkey this morning is almost gone. I plan to take it out of the bag and let it air dry Tuesday.

                                                        3. re: jamlaur

                                                          I have tried the salts and they are amazing. I make a thyme flavored one at home, and I was pleasantly surprised to see lemon and rosemary sea salt at Cost Plus the other day. They are both excellent.
                                                          As far as dry-brining goes, I've been making turkeys for years but I"m after I tried it for the 1st time last year I'm dry-brining from now on. I put flavored herb butter under the skin and fill the cavity with lemons, onions and celery during the brining process and then during cooking.
                                                          Admittedly I feel somewhat ridiculous massaging a turkey every day, but hey, it's worth it!

                                                      2. Anybody notice that "dry-brining" is an oxymoron? A brine is salt plus water (plus sugar, spices if you like), also known as a "wet cure". So "Dry-brine" is salt, maybe sugar, spices but no water? That is called a "dry cure" or just "salt". Thank you, LA Times, for creating a stupid new word for something that already had a perfectly good one.

                                                        1. a new article is in today's LA Times, looks excellent!

                                                          1. Technically a "brine" is a mixture of ingredients in water, if you don't have water you don't have a brine. What you are calling "dry brining" has historically been called "dry curing." brining on the other hand is a "wet curing." You don't get a dry brined ham, you get a cured ham....

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: persia

                                                              well, yes and no. the word "curing" usually refers to salting over an extended period with the intention of preserving, not a brief time for flavoring. Think country ham or prosciutto as opposed to your thanksgiving turkey.

                                                            2. i'm not cooking a full turkey, but a large breast of Turkey. has anybody tried this? and if so, how did it turn out?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: kindra68

                                                                works great. just follow the same proportion of salt to weight.

                                                              2. So is there any reason not to rinse the bird before you dry it and let it rest? And wash off any excess salt that way? Also how did the dry bring work out when you only had 1 extra day?

                                                                16 Replies
                                                                1. re: normnew

                                                                  There's no reason to rinse it at that point -- there shouldn't be any excess salt on the skin, it's all been absorbed. At that point, I think you don't want to rinse it, because it will just add extra water to the turkey and will make it take longer to dry off -- I'd just pat it dry with paper towels before letting it dry.

                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                    Thanks Jas.... do you think 36 hrs of salt bring is enough?

                                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                                      I too would like to know how much time is enough. I dont have enough room in the fridge to do a wet brine, so I was thinking about a dry brine. However I just got my turkey and dont know if I have enough time to do it.

                                                                      1. re: mitzimom

                                                                        I did this a couple of weeks ago with a small (10 lb) turkey -- did the salt on Friday night and cooked it Sunday afternoon, and it was thoroughly seasoned. My method is slightly different than the LA Times -- I put the turkey on a cookie sheet and loosely tent with foil, so it dries while it brines (or cures), thus eliminating the need for the extra day of drying. I think that if you start now it should be good.

                                                                        Savour Fare
                                                                        Cooking Good Food, Every Day

                                                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                          I'm glad I read far enough in this interesting thread to see your post, Amuse Bouches. I'm following your method with the cookie sheet and AL foil. That will be easier for me. Starting this afternoon to roast in the Weber on Friday.

                                                                        2. re: mitzimom

                                                                          36 hours should be fine. i'd skip the last drying step ... leave the turkey in the bag until about an hour before roasting, then take it out of the bag, pat it dry and let it warm slightly before roasting. should be fine.

                                                                          1. re: FED

                                                                            I think I'm in the 36 hour camp since I just found out about dry brining today and won't be able to apply salt until about 6pm Tuesday night. I can let it brine until about 8am Thursday (38 hours I guess). Has anyone done this? I am worried about the salt taking the moisture out and not putting it back in.

                                                                            Aurora50 (earlier in chain) did about a 24 hour brine (in 2007) -- how did it come out?

                                                                            1. re: phlosar

                                                                              Same here -- 11-lb turkey -- is it too late to consider dry brining?

                                                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                                                do it now and you'll be ok. you won't get the full effect, but you'll get some. tomorrow morning will be too late.

                                                                                1. re: FED

                                                                                  I don't have a big enough plastic bag -- can I use two bags end to end or does it require air tight sealing?

                                                                                  1. re: Sarah

                                                                                    It's supposed to be air-tight, to keep all of the liquid trapped inside the bag so it can be reabsorbed into the turkey. You could tape the two bags together to get that effect.

                                                                                    I always cook my turkeys in a cooking bag, and they are also perfect for sealing the turkey during the salting process. I use a twist-tie to secure the bag in the salting phase, as the tie that comes with the bag really wasn't made to be removable.

                                                                                    1. re: Chazzzer

                                                                                      So my turkey has been dry brining in a sealed bag since early Sat afternoon. I took it out tonight to start the drying process. Not all the liquid was absorbed...I'd say there at least a half a cup of "juice". Just leave it or mop it up and throw it away?

                                                                                      1. re: donali

                                                                                        With a typical frozen turkey (and even some fresh turkeys), not all of the liquid will be absorbed. It's because they inject the turkeys with liquid...supposedly to make them more moist, but really to make them heavier (so you pay more). Don't worry about that, just throw it away.

                                                                                      2. re: Chazzzer

                                                                                        This is what I had to do as well. My 18 pounder would not fit in one of those 2 1/2 gallon ziplocks, so I just put it in one of those cooking bags. I just pushed as much air out as I could before putting the twist tie on.

                                                                                2. re: phlosar

                                                                                  I didn't end up doing it that way after all, and just cooked my turkey the traditional way that year. But don't worry, it looks like there is plenty of good information for you here from other posters.

                                                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                                                    Hi: It's Wednesday night and my turkey has a big puddle under it. I dry brined it Sunday night. I added the paprika/cumin/garlic/onion rub to the salt, so the puddle is RED...should I take it out to air dry overnight? What happens to the flavorful puddle...? HELP! My turkey was fresh and 15 pounds...

                                                                        3. This whole thing is freaking me out. The turkey is sitting in a little puddle of red juice. Not so attractive.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Azizeh

                                                                            That "juice" is probably the liquid that they injected into the turkey to make it more moist. Don't worry about it, when it's time to cook the turkey you can just throw it away.

                                                                            1. re: Chazzzer

                                                                              I'm freaked out too. I also have a fair amount of red juice. I put in in on Monday night and flipped it once from breast up to breast down. I was gonna flip it again today (apparently the latest adjustment from the LA times article). I've massaged it and I hope when I take it out tonight (Wednesday) to sit overnight out of the bag in the fridge it will be "not wet" as it is noted above that it should be. Please would someone who's done this more than once--can you tell me if this is what you experienced and was it OK? I have an 18 lb Mary's fresh turkey from Whole Foods....and again--I should NOT rinse it tonight when I take it out of the bag?

                                                                              1. re: mahealani

                                                                                do not rinse. almost all of the liquid will be reabsorbed. as other posters have pointed out, a lot of these turkeys have moisture added. have patience.

                                                                                1. re: FED

                                                                                  I'm trying this too, and actually found this thread because I wondered why not all the liquid has been reabsorbed. Put the bird in da bag Sunday night, having used the sage and bay spice additions to the salt. It had just a bit of liquid in the bag by Monday, but I haven't seen any evidence of it being reabsorbed. But sounds like it'll be OK after a night in the fridge.

                                                                                  I'm using a good quality fresh turkey, 13 lbs. Also, I'm trying the butterflied method this year as well. Lots of fun busting the breast bone with a hand-held sledge hammer. We'll see how it all works out.

                                                                                  1. re: bmalin

                                                                                    You guys are wonderful. I really appreciate the feedback. Could all of you who rinse vs don't rinse weigh in? I found a bon appetit receipe for bry brine and the recipe says to rinse and most of the comments are obsessed with the saltiness---they stress to rinse. They call for 1/3 cup salt +1 tablespoon vs my 3 Tlbs for the 18 lbs...so maybe they over-did it. Also I just reached a bit under the skin--I mostly did it on the outside of the skin as per the LA times example. So---has anyone tried both? I personally love salt (especially salty turkey skin) but with a lot of guests a lot is riding on this bird!
                                                                                    Again, thanks!

                                                                                    1. re: mahealani

                                                                                      Don't rinse. The Bon Appetit recipe uses WAY more salt than this one, so don't rinse, it'll just add more liquid, which is what you don't want, and will take away the flavoring of the salt.

                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                        OK NOW I'm really freaking out. I had the little puddle of wetness. I took out my turkey last night I patted it a little (maybe that's where I messed up). I put in back in the fridge to air dry for the crisp skin per the LA times recipe and now, this morning, it looks positiviely cured. As in dry. It's a bit shriveled and it just looks dry, not plump and moist. I'm gonna put it in with a butter rub, but I'm really worried. did I ruin my bird. If anyone of you is out there today calm my fears. Should I go to Boston Market and cheat?

                                                                                        1. re: mahealani

                                                                                          I dunno, this is my first time to do this too and my turkey looks very similar to your description.

                                                                                          1. re: springmom

                                                                                            We had to postpone Thanksgiving, a decision that wasn't made until Tuesday. For a variety of reasons, this is my current turkey situation:

                                                                                            Put a 9 lb turkey, rubbed with salt, in the refrigerator on Monday afternoon. It's been sitting on a rack, exposed to the air the whole time.

                                                                                            I haven't touched it since then. No flipping or massaging.

                                                                                            The skin is tight and has that odd, slightly bruised color that people describe.

                                                                                            The current plan is to have Thanksgiving on Saturday. I'd like to just cook it then, but will cook it tomorrow and reheat on Saturday if that will be the difference between decent turkey and giving my guests food poisoning or just turkey that doesn't taste good because it's been sitting drying out for too long.

                                                                                            So, have I ruined it by leaving it exposed to the air for so long? Should I quick get it into a brining bag now for any reason? Will letting it go until Saturday, which will be 5 full days in the fridge, be a mistake?

                                                                                            Worst comes to worst, I suppose I can toss this one, run out and buy a turkey tomorrow and just not have it brined or cured. But that would be a shame.

                                                                                            1. re: springmom

                                                                                              This was the best turkey ever! OMG, I couldn't believe how tender and tasty it was. All the guests kept saying how it was the best turkey I have ever made. Thanks for everyone's comments. Definitely dry brining from now on. Oh, and I didn't even start the process until Tues. morning and it still came out great.

                                                                                              1. re: springmom

                                                                                                Agreed a million times. I bought a gross injected bird and decided to try it anyway. Salted it down tuesday morning (added fresh rosemary to the salt). Uncovered it wed night, roasted it off on thanksgiving and was blown away by the deliciousness. I will never not use this method again.

                                                                            2. We "dry-brined" this year's turkey using this 2005 Fine Cooking recipe:


                                                                              1/4 cup of salt for a 15-pound turkey seemed like a lot, but the results were excellent. Best turkey ever.

                                                                              The turkey itself was free-range purchased direct from a farm that uses the "Joel Salitin / Polyface Farms method" that's apparently discussed in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

                                                                              1. Just thought I would report back that we did something similiar based on our Zuni chicken approach. Bird was salted and then air dried for two days. No bag like in the LAT. Just required good fridge management. The skin gets quite dry and becomes wonderfully crispy in the oven. We also spatchocked. We used a Mary's organic.

                                                                                70 minutes to roast a 16 pound bird and the best, by far, that I have ever eaten.

                                                                                Seriously, we decided we'd make one for Christmas too.

                                                                                1. I followed the LA Times recipe. Had a 13 lb fresh Diestel turkey. Overall, it was a very good turkey. I could see the juices running as I carved it about an hour after it came out of the oven. My skin wasn't crispy, but that was probably due to the fact that it had to sit under foil for a while, the bird cooked way faster than I anticipated.

                                                                                  My gravy was just a little too salty, so next year I'd probably make some turkey stock ahead of time and avoid using the juices.

                                                                                  I'd definitely use this method again.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Azizeh

                                                                                    It does sound intriguing and I should try this method.

                                                                                    (But I so love the citrus-herb flavor imparted by my brine--hard to give that up!)

                                                                                  2. I used the LA Times dry salt recipe for my 21 pound bird. Put it in a large oven cooking bag and then on a cookie sheet, and into the fridge on Mon. afternoon. On Tuesday night, I opened the bag, "massaged" the turkey, and turned it over. Yes, there was a lot of red juice in the bag, but I left it in. When I went to remove the bag on Wed. night, I found that the bag had ripped, thereby releasing all the juices onto the cookie sheet (thank goodness I had used the sheet!). So I poured the juice out and put the bird back into the fridge uncovered to air dry. When I went to cook the turkey on Thursday, I did not rinse (although I did pat dry with a lot of paper towels).

                                                                                    The turkey came out moist and delicious. I received a lot of comments on it. I will definitely use this recipe again. I may try flavoring the salt next time, as Russ Parsons suggested.

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: goodeatsgal

                                                                                      I just put a frozen 18 lb. turkey in the fridge on Sunday night, for Sat. night dinner. Does the turkey have to be completely thawed before doing the dry brine method?


                                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                                        you can dry-brine at the same time you're defrosting.

                                                                                        1. re: FED

                                                                                          FED, you seem to be very knowledgeable regarding the dry brine. Here's my plan, please tell me what you think.

                                                                                          Rinse off my partially frozen bird which I put in the fridge on Sunday. Dry it off with paper towels and then put on the salt. Let it sit in the fridge, UNCOVERED no bag, until Saturday. Think I'll have a problem not using the bag to cover it?

                                                                                          1. re: Rick

                                                                                            thanks rick. yeah, i think that's problematic. during the first couple of days the dry-brining throws off a lot of liquid, which is later reabsorbed. you need the bag to collect it. but the rest of the plan sounds good. if you're having trouble finding a bag big enough, do what i did this thanksgiving: a small plastic garbage liner bag. sealed with a twist-tie, worked perfectly.

                                                                                            1. re: FED

                                                                                              replying to bring this dry-brine thread back up :)

                                                                                              1. re: mma800

                                                                                                I love this cooking method even though it takes some planning...I use herbs mixed with the salt and stuffed in the cavity. I love Thanksgiving!

                                                                                                1. re: mma800

                                                                                                  Good idea :) I just re-read to give myself a refresher. I've used this method twice now and plan to use it again this year.

                                                                                                  The one thing I can add is that yes, the dry turkey you take out of the fridge is not a photogenic object. The skin looks awful. But, after roasting, it sure tastes good.

                                                                                                  I roast using Alton Brown's basic recipe because, frankly, I'm never going to attempt to flip another @(#*$(% turkey again.

                                                                                      2. For anyone not sure where to to get a bag large enough for a turkey, just use the Reynold's Oven Bags (turkey size). They work great. Garbage bags often leak and if they are made from recycled plastic, they are not food safe.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: pdxgriller

                                                                                          This what I use every year, but I just noticed that Reynold's now has a brining bag. Not sure what the diff is between it and their regular turkey bag, but here is a link to it:

                                                                                          1. re: springmom

                                                                                            Good call, I had not seen those anywhere. In their FAQ section it sounds like they are different from the oven bags, Probably work better as they sound like they would be more flexible and stronger. I do know someone that uses the oven bag to cook in as well as dry cure, just folds the bag down to air dry and then seal it back up to cook in. She said it comes out great and the turkey gets brown. I never have cooked in the oven bags so I can't say if that works better or not. Maybe someone here can comment on cooking in oven bags vs. no bag.

                                                                                        2. I've been dry brining turkeys for several years and they all came out great. I've used different salts, zests, spice blends etc. but for me, the technique is sound. I don't rinse my turkey, but I do pat off any extra salt before I let the skin dry.
                                                                                          I wet brined a chicken last week, and the breast meat was slightly mushy....it reminded of some of the turkeys I used to make before dry brining! The juices were too salty also, another wet brining hazard.

                                                                                          1. I won't get home till Tuesday night. I'm thinking of dry-brining midnight on Tuesday without the bag. Will this work? Alternatively, I could dry-brine in the bag overnight, take it out of the bag on Wednesday morning, and roast Alton-style on Thursday.
                                                                                            Also, last year I dry-brined it came out moist but a little salty. Should I just use less salt? (I normally don't use a lot of salt in cooking anyway.)

                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: chefMolnar

                                                                                              I'd use the bag and maybe slightly less salt, then leave in the fridge for 12 hours.

                                                                                              1. re: chefMolnar

                                                                                                I mean leave uncovered for 12 hours!

                                                                                                1. re: Lisa456

                                                                                                  One year I didn't start dry brining until Tuesday morning and it still came out great. I did use less salt and leave uncovered in the fridge as Lisa suggested.

                                                                                                2. re: chefMolnar

                                                                                                  From Kenji Alt-Lopez over at SeriousEats:

                                                                                                  "Well let me end how I started: I don't brine my birds because I like my birds to taste like birds, not like watered-down birds. Salting your meat is nearly as effective at preventing moisture loss, and the flavor gains are noticeable. Want to know the truth? Even advanced salting is not a necessary first step. I see it more as a safeguard to overcooking. It provides a little buffer in case you accidentally let that bird sit in the oven an extra 15 minutes. As long as you are very careful about monitoring your bird, there's no reason to brine or salt it in advance.

                                                                                                  That said, it doesn't hurt to take precautions.

                                                                                                  How To Do It If You So Choose
                                                                                                  Easy. Use kosher salt. Salt your meat liberally (it should look like a light snowfall on the bird). Place the bird on a plate in the fridge overnight and loosely cover it with plastic or cheesecloth. Rinse if desired to remove excess surface salt (I skip this step because I like salty skin). Pat dry. Roast as desired. For even better results, carefully separate the skin from the breast and thighs and rub the salt directly on the meat, under the skin."

                                                                                                  The article on how he reached his conclusions is an interesting and worthwhile read.


                                                                                                    1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                      Great article! I really liked that he included pics of the results.

                                                                                                    2. re: chefMolnar

                                                                                                      I have a 6.32 lb. turkey breast that I just rubbed with slightly less than 1 Tbsp. of kosher salt (based on 1 Tbsp. for every 5 lbs.). No roasting bag, so I used AmuseBouche's method noted above several years ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4599... I draped a paper towel over the turkey breast, and then loosely tented with foil in a roasting pan.

                                                                                                      If I still see salt on the skin when I take it out on Thursday morning, I'll rinse it off under cold water and then pat dry before I add some herb butter under the skin. Crossing my fingers it works out for Mom and me.

                                                                                                    3. We have been doing this since rthe arcticle first appeard and the results are great. The link is pretty much permately up on their site now due to the popularity of it. Just search on LATimes Turkey Judy


                                                                                                      1. Can I do dry brining with regular salt instead of kosher? If so, I assume less salt since the salt crystals are smaller? . . . .

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: cookinglisa

                                                                                                          Well, this is late, but we dry-brined our turkey very simply, using Lawry's Seasoned Salt. In the refrigerator, for 2 days. We did not rinse.
                                                                                                          It turned out so delectable, we could not stop eating it. We ended up eating most of it (in sandwiches, soup, etc.) And it was a 15 pound bird, and just my sister and me.
                                                                                                          : )