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!

Vegetable Pork Skillet Dinner

Serve over rice, baked sweet or white potatoes, or use as a burrito filling. Yum! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Why cook up plain pork when you can add so much rich flavor with onions, garlic, mushrooms, and dried herbs? If desired, you can serve this over rice, quinoa, or sweet or white potatoes. I also think this would make a delicious burrito stuffing – just add salsa, avocado, or whatever you desire for toppings! Or eat it as is for a simple skillet dinner.

While I have to say I didn’t give this recipe a very snazzy name, the combinations of flavor are just lovely! I’ve been working on increasing my intake of vegetables, and it’s been a delicious choice as well as a healthy one.

Yes, delicious!

This simple skillet dinner is an example of how you can make a flavorful dish simply by combining a variety of vegetables and your choice of meat with a few spices and some garlic. The meat flavors the vegetables and vice versa for a more rounded flavor.

The other thing I love about skillet dinners is that they are very easy and fast to make, so they make perfect dinners for busy nights. Right now we have three evenings with soccer practice! Yup, it’s a busy time! To see why I am making vegetables a priority right now, read my post. Why We Should Eat More Vegetables. While you are there, sign up for the 10 Day Vegetable Challenge! I’m super excited about it! It will start on the 12th.

I’ve been trying to get in more sulfur containing vegetables. In The Wahls Protocol, Dr. Wahls has you eat 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables every day. She says, “Finally, I want you to eat 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables, which in addition to antioxidants, also have health-promoting sulfur compounds in them. Sulfur may not get the media attention that antioxidants do, but it is an incredibly important compound for health.” She goes on in her book to explain why sulfur is important for your connective tissue, joints, skin, hair, nails, skin disorders, arthritis, and blood vessel health, as well as being important for anyone with an autoimmune disease.

Sulfur containing vegetables include the cabbage family (such as broccoli and cauliflower), the onion family and the mushroom family. This dish has two of the three. But if you wanted all three, why not slice some cabbage to add to the dish!

Notes on the Recipe:

  • If desired, add a diced sweet bell pepper
  • The bacon is optional. We make it without just as often.
  • This is also delicious with a couple of thinly sliced zucchini cooked into the mixture. Yum!
  • This is the type of recipe that makes me LOVE owning a large saucepan. I personally favor my large cast iron.
  • AIP note: Leave out the pepper, and don’t use the bacon unless it’s AIP safe.

Vegetable Pork Skillet Dinner

PDF file for printing

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bacon, or 2 tablespoons of fat/oil of choice (avocado oil, coconut oil, etc).
  • 1 large onion, peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
  • ½ to 1 pound of mushroom, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound of ground pork (pastured, organic is best, if possible)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and put through a garlic press
  • A generous pinch of dried oregano and dried thyme
  • Unrefined Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper.

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan or cast iron over medium heat cook the bacon, if using, until crisp and done. Flip to cook evenly. Remove from pan and set aside. There should be about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. If you had leaner bacon, you can add fat of choice to the pan to make up two tablespoons.
  2. 2. Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan and cook over medium heat if using cast iron, or medium-high, if using stainless steel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir as needed to cook evenly and prevent sticking. After five to seven minutes, when the vegetables are soft, add the pork, garlic, and oregano and thyme. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the pork is thoroughly cooked through and the vegetables soft.
  3. Crumble the bacon on top, season to taste, and serve as desired.

Stove Top Goat Cheddar Mac and Cheese (Gluten Free)

Gluten-Free Goat Cheddar Mac and Cheese - Kid friendly, and NO cow dairy! -Creamy and delicious. - The Nourishing Gourmet

Gluten-free noodles topped with an ultra creamy and mild cheese sauce that is free of any cow dairy, but rich and creamy with goat cheddar and chicken broth. Yum! This dish is gluten-free and cow dairy-free, but still has that lovely creamy flavor and perfect noodles that I loved as a child.

I’m glad that my children eat a variety of nourishing foods, including ones that I wouldn’t have ever eaten as a child ¬– foods like caviar and seaweed and dark greens. But sometimes it’s also fun to share nourishing versions of my favorite childhood dishes. And my favorite by far was mac and cheese. Growing up my mom would make big dishes of oven-baked mac and cheese. Yum!

The problem is that some of us don’t do well with cow dairy, and half the family is gluten-free. I had been tossing around the idea of making a goat cheddar mac and cheese recipe, but I was a little worried about how it would turn out. I finally took the plunge, and it came out wonderful!

Did you know that macaroni and cheese was a popular penny-pinching dish for a long time? I’ve read several references to it as such in old cookbooks – one of which was one that helped the poorest city folks know how to cook frugally for their families.

But I was very amused by the references to mac and cheese in the book, Below Stairsby Margaret Powell (Amazon links are affiliate).  Have you heard of it before? Margaret was born in 1907, and worked as a kitchen maid and later as a cook, and this book is her autobiography. Her book is supposed to have inspired both Upstairs, Downstairs, as well as Downton Abbey. I read it recently and enjoyed it. It must have been eye opening at the time for the upper class to see themselves through the perspective of one of the maids. Plus, Margaret has a witty and insightful writing style that makes this book so much fun!

For example, when talking about trying to find a husband, “Men are very susceptible to flattery. Even a man with a face like the back of a bus, if you tell him he doesn’t look too bad, believes you. You can stuff men up with any old yarn. They believe anything. You’ve only got to gaze into their eyes, and sound as though you mean what you say. I’ve tried it so I know it’s true.”

Or on cooking, “It’s a funny thing, but the less cooking you know how to do, the more competent you feel. It’s only when you know how to cook that it worries you when it goes wrong, because when you don’t know, you don’t know it’s gone wrong. The more experienced I got the more I worried. I soon realized when a dish wasn’t perfection. Not that I could have hoped to have a dish that was perfection at Lady Gibbons’ because even the best cook in the world can’t make a dish out of poor ingredients.”

The book is full of rich little nuggets like above that make this book a riot to read (but also full of human insight). And while reading the book, I noticed that my favorite dish was treated rather poorly. In pre-war times in the wealthy households that she worked in, mac and cheese was not held in high regard at all. Margaret describes how some of the households went through vast amounts of cream and meat and all sorts of good ingredients to make elaborate 12-course meals for their every dinner upstairs, while downstairs, the servants were fed far less scrumptious meals.

She says, “What we had at night were the left- overs of the day before or a macaroni cheese or welsh rarebit. It wasn’t Mrs. McIlroy’s fault [the cook], she wasn’t allowed to give us more. Some of the maids used to moan like mad and say they never got enough to eat. I didn’t moan, but I used to feel it wasn’t fair.“

What! My beloved mac and cheese snubbed by even the servants? But on second thought, considering we do all of our housework ourselves, I guess we are the servants of our household, and so it is fitting that we eat creamy and delicious poor man mac and cheese. 😉

If you, like me, accept humble fare instead of 12-course meals, I hope you’ll enjoy this lovely little dish. (And if you love books, check out Below Stairs ).

Goat Cheddar Cheese Sauce - Pour over noodles for mac and cheese OR over steamed vegetables. Yum! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

This creamy cheddar sauce is perfect not only noodles but also over steamed vegetables for a low-carb option (or just a very yummy vegetable side!). Try it with cauliflower!

Notes on the recipe:

  • I used the this gluten free pasta (they hold together well and taste great), but you can use whatever brand/kind you like. You can get them here on Amazon.
  • I didn’t use goat milk in this recipe to replace cow milk. Why? Goat milk tends to get more “goaty” in flavor when heated. I was nervous about using chicken broth as I was concerned it would be too thin, but it turned out great. I used store bought, and not homemade, but homemade would be even better.
  • You can make this into baked mac and cheese by putting the finished mac and cheese in a pan, and sprinkling with cheese and putting in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Make sure you use a mild cheese (not “goaty” cheddar) for this recipe.

Gluten-Free Goat Cheddar Mac and Cheese - Kid friendly, and NO cow dairy! -Creamy and delicious. - The Nourishing Gourmet

Other Recipes Based on Books:

Stove Top Goat Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

  • 8 ounces of gluten free elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter of choice (Goat, sheep, or cow, if you can tolerate it) OR oil or fat of choice (you can try bacon grease too!)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (Or try arrowroot or organic corn starch)
  • 1 cup of chicken broth, homemade or store bought (made with real food ingredients)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ pound of mild goat cheddar, grated
  • Unrefined salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional flavor addition: dried or fresh thyme, paprika, cayenne, fresh chives, diced cooked bacon

Directions:

1. Cook the noodles according to the packages instructions until JUST cooked (don’t overcook). Make sure you boil in salted water. Drain and rinse.

2. For the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and whisk in the tapioca flour. Whisk for one to two minutes (don’t allow it to burn) and then slowly whisk in the broth. It should thicken almost immediately. Once it has thickened, add the goat cheddar, and stir until the goat cheddar has melted (about five minutes or so). Salt and pepper to taste. Add any flavor additions. The sauce should be on the verge of being too salty, as it will be diluted on the noodles.

3. Pour the noodles into the sauce, and gently fold into the cheese sauce. Serve right away and enjoy!

(To bake: Pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with more cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes.)

Stove Top Goat Cheddar Mac and Cheese (Gluten Free)
 
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of gluten free elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter of choice (Goat, sheep, or cow, if you can tolerate it) OR oil or fat of choice (you can try bacon grease too!)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (Or try arrowroot or organic corn starch)
  • 1 cup of chicken broth, homemade or store bought (made with real food ingredients)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ pound of mild goat cheddar, grated
  • Unrefined salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional flavor addition: dried or fresh thyme, paprika, cayenne, fresh chives, diced cooked bacon
Instructions
  1. Cook the noodles according to the packages instructions until JUST cooked (don’t overcook). Make sure you boil in salted water. Drain and rinse.
  2. For the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and whisk in the tapioca flour. Whisk for one to two minutes (don’t allow it to burn) and then slowly whisk in the broth. It should thicken almost immediately. Once it has thickened, add the goat cheddar, and stir until the goat cheddar has melted (about five minutes or so). Salt and pepper to taste. Add any flavor additions. The sauce should be on the verge of being too salty, as it will be diluted on the noodles.
  3. Pour the noodles into the sauce, and gently fold into the cheese sauce. Serve right away and enjoy!
  4. (To bake: Pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with more cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes.)