The great debate on how to treat your bird both before and during the cooking in order to achieve meat so succulent it will literally blow your mother in laws hair back brings together the best in tradition and culinary science. In our experience the method of dry brining, regardless of the cooking method is both simple an effective at producing a superbly tender and tasty bird, just the ticket when you have 19 members of your extended family on the judging panel. Select a beautiful free range bird like our one from my friend Kathy at Canter Valley www.cantervalley.co.nz to achieve the most delicious result.
Dry Brined Roast Turkey
1 5kg free range turkey.
5 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large apple, quatered
1 onion, quatered
Large handful of fresh herbs (sage, thyme, parsley etc)
2 cups white wine
600g dry bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 stick buttter, melted
3 cups diced onions
2 tbsp thyme leaves
½ cup sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 pound turkey or pork sausage, casing removed
300g lb baby kale leaves
1 1/2 cups dates (pitted and halved)
1 cup dry sherry
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped toasted pecans
1. Thaw turkey thoroughly to be ready 2 days before serving to allow for brining time. Rinse thawed turkey and thoroughly pat dry using paper kitchen towels.
2. Measure out salt and rub all over the bird, inside and out, and under loose skin.
3. Wrap turkey in a plastic bag and place in the fridge overnight. Turn the turkey over on the second night.
4. On the day of cooking remove the turkey from the bag and dry thoroughly with paper kitchen towels then allow the skin to dry uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 400F.
2 Tear or cut bread into 1-inch chunks and place in a large mixing bowl add half the oil and half the melted butter and toss to combine.
3. Place half the remaining oil in a skillet and gently cook the onions until translucent, add in the herbs, stir, then add to the bread.
4. Add remaining oil to skillet and in batches cook the sausage meat in small balls.
5. Add kale and dates to the mixture and toss through.
6. Combine sherry, wine and stock, heat till steaming and add remaining butter. Add the liquid to the bowl in stages (you may not need all the liquid depending on how you’re your bread was).
7. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper and add the toasted pecans.
8. Reserve 4-5 cups of stuffing mixture for stuffing the turkey and transfer remaining stuffing to a buttered ceramic baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 400F. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes or until top is golden and crisp.
1. Sprinkle half the pepper into main cavity then stuff with kale, date and pecan stuffing. Truss legs with kitchen twine. Place apples, onions and herbs into the neck opening and tuck neck skin under bird.
2. Using a clean hand carefully separate skin from breast and stuff butter under the skin. Sprinkle bird with remaining pepper. Insert temperature probe into the turkey thigh meat (take care to avoid the probe touching the bone as this will inflate the real temperature).
3. Roast for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover breast of bird and wing tips with foil. Add wine to the bottom of roasting pan. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 165F.
4. When the turkey reaches temperature, remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for 30 minutes before carving.
5. Reserve fat and drippings from the roasting pan to make gravy.
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