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Christmas dinner with turkey

Introduction

This recipe is for my dry brined Turkey. Dry brining is a technique I learnt from my good friend and meat supremo, (albeit now he's converted to plant based supremo), chef Neil Rankin. You essentially marinade the turkey for two days in sugar and salt, then wash it off, leave the turkeys skin to dry out overnight and then rub with butter and slow cook at a lowish temperature for hours…

Method

  1. I stuff my turkey - its an old fashion idea not to stuff the turkey because of not cooking it through. Cooking low and slow will ensure its piping hot and very much to temperature. Pop your turkey into a brining bag and crack on the with the dry brine.
  2. Place the peppercorns in a blender with the salt and sugar and blitz. Pour the salt into the brining bag with the turkey and give it a good old shake until the turkey is covered inside and out with the mixture. Pop it into the fridge and leave for up to 48 hours.
  3. The night before, remove the turkey from the bag, wash the brine away and dry the bird with kitchen paper. Leave in the fridge exposed to really dry out which ensures crispy skin.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 140oC/120oC fan (275oF) Gas mark 1. This sounds alarmingly low. Trust me, I was alarmed when Neil told me, but go with it, it works. Carefully slide your hand under the skin to detach it from the breast, just enough to rub the butter underneath. Do your best to rub it evenly under the skin, but if there's any excess butter you can rub it over the top of the bird. No need to season, as the bird has been brined.
  5. If you're stuffing your bird, now's the time to do it! I do, because I like the meat juices to make my stuffing moist with the added flavour from the bird.
  6. Lay the bird on a trivet of the sliced onions, celery, carrots and thyme in a large roasting tray and wrap tightly in foil.
  7. Roast for 3½ hours - there really is no need to baste when cooking at so low a temperature, so don't remove the foil. It kind of roasts/steams the bird, which is how it keeps it juicy.
  8. When the time is up, take the bird out of the oven and increase the oven temperature as high as it will go. Remove the foil while the oven heats up and check that the bird is cooked by piercing the thigh at its thickest part with a metal skewer. The juices should run clear and it should be really juicy.
  9. Roast for another 20 minutes, or until the bird is an even bronze colour all over.
  10. Remove from the oven and wrap in fresh foil, then leave to rest for 40 minutes before serving with gravy.
Christmas dinner with turkey