Dry turkey is a cursed thing, one that can not be cured no matter how much gravy you throw at it. If your Thanksgiving turkey is dry you may as well just give up on the dinner and head for the pie table.
Every year, I dread the thoughts, nay, fears, of being responsible for a dry turkey on Thanksgiving Day. This year I was perusing Nigella Lawson’s excellent FEASTS and came across a recipe for Brined Turkey. Yup, brined, as in pickle. Water, salt, sugar, maple syrup, honey, lime, herbs & spices were mixed to form a highly fragrant bath for our 18 pound turkey. Then we dumped it in and let that sucker sit for two days. Chilled of course, stirred, not shaken. Then an hour before lift-off we take the turkey out to dry it off and warm it up to room temperature, cause apparently everything likes to be treated like a frog. That is, food likes to be room temperature before you apply heat to it, it cooks and tastes better if you do that.
Dad freaked out a bit about the turkey soaking, but after reading the recipe, he calmed down and rolled with it.
Then pop that bird into a hot oven, 450, for 1/2 an hour, then set it to 350 for the rest of the time it needs. 3 1/2 hours to cook an 18 pound turkey to perfection. I mean perfection, it was golden brown and oh so yummy. It was juicy and TASTY stone cold out of the fridge the next day too. The gravy was a breeze also, but then I make stock ahead of time and use that to be sure that we have plenty of that nectar of the gods around for leftovers.
I recommend that book. The recipe and timing was dead on. Plus her commentary is hilarious. I’m using her recipe for our Christmas Goose this year.