Salt Roasted Turkey with Herbs and Garlic (AIP-friendly)

salt-roasted-turkey-dry-brine

Salt roasted turkey is also sometimes called “dry-brining, ” and it gives you moist turkey meat and crisp skin and beautiful flavor. Plus, I love that this method is so simple!

You will mix kosher salt with dried herbs, lemon and orange zest, and garlic and gently massage into the turkey. Left to saturate overnight, the turkey ends up being well flavored as well as moist, and the turkey skin is browned nicely and crisp. What more can you ask for?

Wet Brine Vs. Dry Brine

The first turkey I made that I felt was a big success was a wet brine. It was plump, flavorful, and was finally a turkey that didn’t dry out. The biggest disadvantages we saw were the following.
1: It’s a bit of a pain to do, and you either need a giant stock pot or a brining bag.
2: The skin doesn’t get as browned and crisp as other methods because it never drys out as much.
3: It does dilute the turkey flavor. Harsher critics of the method say it waters it down. I still like wet brining turkeys, but I have to say that dry brining may be my new favorite.

Benefits of dry brining

1. Dry brining will give you beautiful turkey skin that is very delicious.
2. It’s incredibly easy to do, and you don’t need a brining bag.
3. While wet brining can dilute, dry brining concentrates flavors.
4. Dry brining creates its own brine as it draws moisture out of the bird, which the salt then melts into, and then the salty brine reabsorbs into the turkey.

A Couple More Thoughts on Dry brining

Be aware that this is a well-salted bird. We dislike meats that are under-salted, so this was a wonderful method for us. However, if you like dishes barely or lightly salted, this isn’t the method for you. A few people will rinse the turkey before cooking to cut down on saltiness, but this will make your turkey skin wet, cut down on the flavor a bit, and isn’t considered a safe practice unless you sterilize well afterward.

Dry Brining Method

  • Start with a fresh turkey, not a frozen and defrosted one (most frozen turkey’s have already been injected with a salty mixture)
  • Mix kosher salt with whatever extra flavors you’d like – dried or fresh herbs, citrus zest, garlic.
  • Rub all over turkey (back and front) and sprinkle in the turkey cavity.
  • Cover, and refrigerate for 12-18 hours. Uncover for the last couple of hours to allow the skin to start drying out for extra crispy skin.
  • Stuff turkey, and baste with melted butter or avocado oil.
  • Roast according to directions, and serve!

Things you’ll need:

  • You can use regular kosher salt, but I used and recommend this unrefined kosher salt that hasn’t been bleached or processed but still has the natural minerals in it.
  • I got a great stainless steel turkey pan from Ikea a couple of years ago. If you aren’t ready to fork over a couple hundred, there are more frugal ones to be had.
  • A meat thermometer
  • A zester or fine grater

I picked out the smallest turkey I could find (about 10 ½ pounds) for the above picture (I was just making it for our small family). The dry brine works for 10-13 pound turkey. (For a ten pounder, you don’t have to use quite all of the salt mixture) For a 14- 15 pound turkey, use a 1/3 a cup of kosher salt and heaping measurements of flavor proponents. For a twenty pound turkey, double the mixture.

Salt Roasted Turkey with Herbs and Garlic

PDF File for Recipe Printing

Recipe for dry salt brine for turkey

Dry Brine Recipe

Take note that you can widely change this recipe up as long as you keep the salt the same. The salt will permeate furthest, the herbs and garlic will flavor just the skin and first layer of the meat.

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme and oregano (or 2 tablespoons each of fresh)
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed through a garlic press of finely minced
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • Zest from 1 large orange

Other possible additions or substitutions: ground pepper (not AIP), rubbed sage, basil, rosemary

Directions:

  1. Mix in a small bowl. Save lemon and orange for stuffing the turkey.

Dry Brined turkey creates moist turkey meat and crisp , beautiful turkey skin. Plus, it's so beautiful!

Preparing the Turkey.

Ingredient:

1 10-14 pound fresh turkey (I used organic, a free range organic would be even better), Notice notes above and below for bigger turkeys

Directions:

  1. Remove any gizzards and the neck bone (check both sides of the turkey). Set aside for broth making (or put in the freezer for later use). Remove metal or plastic insert that holds turkey legs. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle about two tablespoons of the salt mixture inside the turkey cavity, and then rub the rest of the mixture on the turkey, front and back (you can also gently push some under the skin of the turkey).
  3. Place turkey on rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap. Or place in a brining bag and place on sheet.
  4. Refrigerate for 12-18 hours. Remove plastic wrap or brining bag for the last couple of hours to dry out skin, if desired.

Preparing Turkey To Roast

(Simply double all of the below ingredients if using a large turkey)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ -1/2 cup of melted butter or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • The lemon and orange leftover from the dry brine
  • 3 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Place oven rack at lowest position and pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  2. If not already, place turkey, breast side up, in middle of roasting pan on roasting rack. Slice the leftover orange and lemon, and stuff them, along with the sliced onion, into the turkey.
  3. Gently tie legs together (confession – I couldn’t find my kitchen twine when I was testing this recipe, and it still turned out okay) by crossing the legs and then tying. Drizzle liberally with melted butter or avocado oil. Pour water underneath the roasting rack in the turkey pan.
  4. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn down heat to 325F and cook until a meat thermometer gets to 165F when stuck in the thickest part of the turkey thigh and the juices run clear. You may want to turn the turkey pan around half way through the cooking time. (Basting unnecessary) . Cover with foil if the skin is getting too dark.
  5. Approximate total cooking time: 8-12 pounds, 2 ¾ -3 hours; 12-14 pounds – 3 to 3 ¾ hours; 14 -18 pounds, 3 ¾ to 4 ¼; 18-20 pounds, 4 ¼ – 4 ½ hours; 20-24 pounds, 4 ½ -5 hours.
  6. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil to keep warm, and let rest for about 15-30 minutes. (This gives you time to make the gravy). Carve and serve.

P.S. I’m planning on walking you through making a gravy with the drippings, but in case I don’t get to it, you need to dilute the drippings significantly as they will be very salty before turning it into gravy.

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The Art of Simple Skillet Dinners

Need dinner on the table fast? Make healthy and delicious meals using just a skillet! Read more about this method by reading this article at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Lack of time or energy for cooking can be the death knell for healthy eating. We’ve had a year like no other, and developing strategies for quick, healthy meals has been essential. (Read about my new series: The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking)

Enter skillet dinners. Oh, how I love thee, skillet dinners.

7 Reasons I Love Skillet Meals

  • They are fast
  • They are frugal
  • They use up leftovers
  • They are easy to make
  • You don’t need a specific recipe to conquer them
  • They are healthy and vegetable-centered
  • You can use whatever you like to flavor them

This one-skillet dinner has been a true help. They are wildly adaptable to what you have in the fridge, and you can flavor them however you like. Ginger and garlic, dried herbs, fresh herbs, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, green onions, regular onions, red onions, and more!

In my last post, I shared how we have been using pre-washed and cut vegetables on a consistent basis and how much time and how many dinners they have saved. Skillet dinners are one of the most common ways we use prepped vegetables.

Need dinner on the table fast? Make healthy and delicious meals using just a skillet! Read more about this method by reading this article at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Method:

Dinner can be as simple as this: Heating some oil in a large pan, and sautéing together a package or two of prepared vegetables with a pound of ground meat (any kind you like), or adding leftover shredded meat after the vegetables are cooked. Serve with roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, or throw some leftover rice or quinoa into the pan as well, and dinner is served.

While the below options are meat-centric, I see no reason why you couldn’t use cooked beans or lentils instead. In fact, a lentil centered skillet dinner sounds fabulous.

What is essential to this dish is a very large skillet. I favor our largest cast iron pan. And when I say large, I mean large. I use a 12 inch cast iron pan which is adequate for our five member family, but I’d even like a bigger one eventually.

Some combinations we’ve liked:

  • Shredded cabbage with beef (add garlic and salt and pepper to flavor) served with rice or quinoa.
  • Vegetable Pork Skillet Dinner: Onions, Mushrooms, garlic, dried herbs, with pork and bacon.
  • Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Chicken: Cauliflower “rice” with celery, green onions, ginger, garlic, grated carrots, and chicken.
  • Gingery Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry: Ground meat of choice, broccoli, mushrooms, ginger, and garlic.
  • Leftover Fried Rice: Onions, broccoli, and cauliflower mix, leftover shredded roast, leftover rice
  • Every day Skillet Dinner: Onions, Zucchini, mushrooms, meat of choice or eggs
  • Extra Greens Skillet: Onions, greens, meat of choice, seasoning of choice

Really, there are no limits to skillet dinners. One of my recent favorite combinations was one in which I used bits and pieces of leftover bags of vegetables which made a delicious and coherent dinner. Skillet dinners can be a great way to use leftovers and the odds and ends you have in your refrigerator!

Do you make similar dishes? I’d love to hear your favorite combination!

Some links above may be affiliate. Thanks for supporting my website!

How Buying Prepped Vegetables is Saving Our Dinner

I'm so thankful I can buy prepped vegetables. They are helping us get dinner on the table! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

The first tip I wanted to share in my series, The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking, is a simple one, but it has made such a difference for us during a challenging year.

Buying prepped vegetables.

Can I be honest for a minute? I never really thought I would buy pre-cut and prepared vegetables. I do hate the extra plastic packaging that pre-cut vegetables tend to have. Plus, I never saw a problem with an extra five to ten-minute preparation it took to prep my own vegetables.

It never seemed like a big deal to just prep them myself.

But then my kind of low-grade health issues sky-rocketed. This whole last year has been one long sick year for me (we finally got a diagnosis last week, but more on that later). Suddenly those five to fifteen minutes of extra preparation were a big deal. It could mean the difference between having a vegetable side or not, or getting a homemade dinner on the table that night.

I wanted us to eat healthy. I needed us to eat well. But there are seasons when you need all the extra help you can get to make that happen. This has been one such season for us, and having vegetables ready and waiting in the fridge for us to cook up has been a big help.

My husband has been helping much more with the cooking, which has been extremely helpful. But he often gets home late-ish, so having the dinner cooking process as streamlined as possible for him was also important. Once again, it’s been so helpful to have at least some of our vegetables prepped.

Unfortunately, not all prepped vegetables are inexpensive. However, I have been very happy with what I can find at Trader Jo’s. They have a large selection of prepped vegetables, including: cut and washed broccoli and cauliflower, riced cauliflower (frozen and fresh), washed lettuce greens, prepped kale, butternut squash “zigzags” and noodles, a multi-chopped vegetable container (that is very tasty), and more.

While I still have to prep some of our vegetables, having more than half of them prepared for me has been a dinner saver!

The next best thing is hiring someone to prep vegetables for the week for you, or setting aside time (perhaps with a spouse) to prep vegetables for the week using a food processor when possible to make it easier. Neither of these options works well for us right now, so we are really thankful for the prepped vegetables we can buy. If you have any available in the stores near you, give it a try!

The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking

When you feel the worst, you need to eat the best. But how can you manage it when you have chronic health issues or low energy (or are simply busy). This series seeks methods to make eating healthy easier on us. --- The Nourishing Gourmet

Do you need to eat well, but have little energy to put into cooking?

One of the ironies about ill health is that it makes it harder to cook healthy food for yourself when you need it the most. This is especially a problem when you have long-term health issues.

Often friends and family will bring you meals during a short-term acute illness (such as the flu), after you’ve had a baby, or after surgery. But about those who have long-term, chronic illnesses such as an autoimmune disease?

It would be too much to expect to have people bringing you dinner all the time, but you may be just as much in need, especially during a flare.

One of the promises of eating better ¬–especially a healing diet ¬– is that it may over time help improve your health. Dr. Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol , offers such hope. She used this diet to help reverse her own MS, and there are ongoing and encouraging studies using this protocol for other MS sufferers. In this version of a paleo diet, you concentrate on eating high amounts of vegetables every single day as a vital part of the protocol (3 cups of colorful vegetables, 3 cups of greens, and 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables). The autoimmune protocol diet is another healing protocol that includes many of the same principles.

But the irony again. Sometimes when you are sick and in need especially of a healing protocol, you are most fatigued and most overwhelmed at making it work. You just would be happy to get anything on the table, let alone a special diet meal.

If you have children to feed, then this becomes even harder.

I know what I am talking about after an almost complete year of overwhelming health issues (more on that in an upcoming post). I was privileged to live in a community living building for part of this last year where dinner was made for my family (I would make my own dinner when I started the AIP diet).

After we moved out, it was just us again. We made a lot of compromises on our food out of necessity, even while I tried to maintain a strict diet for myself. It was imperfect, but it was the best we could do.

So the first thing I want to say is this – this new series I am started – The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Eating is NOT at all about perfection. Because my health is still up and down so much, there are still days when we are far, far, far away from how I’d like us to eat.

Despite it all, we have managed to eat pretty well a lot of the time. One of my readers on my email subscription list mentioned the idea to me to do this series (borrowed from another blogger who did a similar series on low energy homeschooling). I thought it was a brilliant idea, and quickly wrote out a list of possible subjects to write about and recipes to share.

This series will not be about perfection, even though I will address being on the AIP/healing diets with low energy.

What I love about the series idea, is that everyone can glean from it. Whether you have low energy, are dealing with a chronic illness, or simply have little time, there will be something for everyone.

I am really looking forward to addressing this topic, since it is so close to my own heart, my own situation, and my desire to share any tricks and recipes and ideas that have helped us get through a tough year of illness!

If you have questions or ideas for this series, please use the contact form or comment below to let me know! I’d love to hear from you.