Rubbing the raw turkey with salt 24- 48 hours prior to roasting flavors the meat and breaks down some of the proteins, allowing them to retain more moisture. It is very important to massage the salt evenly inside the cavity and directly onto the meat. NOTE: The application of ice bags prior to roasting chills the breast so it cooks more slowly than the legs and thighs. The result is a turkey whose dark meat is properly cooked and whose breast remains tender and juicy.
1 fresh (12-14 pound) turkey, not kosher or self –basting
- 5 tbsps kosher salt
- 1 (5-pound) bag ice cubes
- cracked black pepper to taste
- granulated garlic to taste
- 2 tbsps fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tbsps fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
Using a chopstick or small wooden spoon, carefully separate turkey skin from meat on breast, legs, thighs and back. Rub 2 tbsps salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, 1 tbsp under skin of each breast half, and 1½ tsps under skin of each leg, being sure to flip turkey and cover underside of thigh. Massage into meat. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24-48 hours. Prior to roasting, remove from refrigerator and carefully rinse excess salt from cavity and under skin. Blot dry inside and out with paper towels. Add ice to two 1-gallon zipper-lock bags until each is half full. Place bags in large roasting pan and lay turkey, breast side down on ice. Add more ice to two 1-quart zipper bags until each is one-third full. Place one bag in turkey cavity and one in neck cavity. Be sure that ice only touches breast, not thighs or legs. Ice for one hour at room temperature. Preheat oven to 425º F. Line a V-rack with heavy-duty foil and poke 20 to 30 small holes through foil. Remove turkey from ice and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck tips of drumsticks into skin at tail to secure. Tuck wingtips behind back. NOTE: You may wish to chop one whole carrot, one onion, one stalk of celery and 4 garlic cloves into the bottom of the roasting pan to enhance the juices for gravy. Season turkey inside and out with pepper, garlic and herbs. Brush breast with 2 tbsps butter and set turkey breast side down on roasting rack in pan. Brush back and legs with remaining butter and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, reduce heat to 325º F, and rotate turkey breast side up. Continue roasting until thickest part of breast registers 160º F and thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175º, about 1 to 1½ hours. Allow to rest on carving board 30 minutes before serving.