It’s the yearly battle: Who has the best turkey recipe? What is the best way to cook a turkey? These are questions countless Utah families face each year.
And while the method of preparation (baked, smoked or fried) is still hotly debated, how to prep the turkey is no longer an issue. Why? Because I found a simple recipe for a salted turkey in Bon Appetit magazine some years ago and it has won our family over for many years. We love to salt and grill our chicken, pork and steak on a daily basis so it was an obvious pick for us. But is it good?
It’s the best turkey we’ve had and we’ve revised the recipe over the years to give us the juiciest, simplest turkey preparation yet. It always makes an appearance on our Thanksgiving table every year.
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
- 3 small bay leaves, coarsely torn
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 14- to 16-pound turkey (neck, heart, and gizzard removed)
- 1 large onion
- 2 apples
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
10 to 12 hours before you plan to begin cooking your turkey, mix first six ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in peel before applying to turkey.
Rinse turkey inside and out (do not pat dry). Pull any fat pads from main cavity and neck cavity of turkey. Place turkey in roasting bag; loosen skin of turkey but do not remove. Generously apply herbed salt under skin and sprinkle inside bird. Close bag. Place on baking sheet; refrigerate until ready to cook bird.
Set oven rack at its lowest position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat very dry. Insert onion and apples into cavity. Fold neck skin under and secure with skewer. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Roast turkey 45 minutes. Rub with butter. Continue to roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, rubbing with butter every 45 minutes, adding stock or water to pan if dry, and tenting loosely with foil if browning too quickly, 3 to 3 1/2 hours longer based on turkey size. Transfer turkey to platter; tent very loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes.