Crispy Brined Turkey with Truffle Butter
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. With a serious brine and crispy, buttery skin, this turkey cooking method is so good.
Photo: Iain Bagwell via Getty Images.
So much of Thanksgiving is about that presentation moment. Before carving, I call everybody in and say, "Look how pretty the turkey is!" and then I start fucking with it.
Prep: 24 hours
Total: 27 hours 30 minutes
for the brine (adjust amounts depending on the size of your turkey):
water (enough to submerge your turkey)
60 g of sea salt per liter of water
cognac, to taste (add enough to your brine that you can taste it in the solution)
strips of orange zest
toasted fennel seeds
for the truffle butter:
fresh ground black pepper
for the turkey:
1 turkey, preferably heritage breed
3 lbs of butter, melted, plus more if needed
1. For the brine, mix all brine ingredients in a large bucket or dish. Submerge and brine the turkey for 24 hours. I usually do this in a bucket on my porch as long as the temperature outside is below 35 degrees.
2. For the truffle butter, mix truffle shavings, salt, and pepper into the butter. Set aside.
3. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry. Stretch the skin out; to do this, slide your hands under the turkey's skin to create space. Press and spread the truffle butter underneath the skin.
4. Put the turkey on a rack, then place a fan on high and point at the turkey to dry the skin out. This will keep the skin crispy. Leave fan on until skin feels pretty dry. You will replace the moisture with the next step.
5. Preheat the oven to 325º F. Place and swish around cheesecloths or clean (but hopefully unwanted) dish towels in the melted butter. (My sous-chef's grandmother taught her this.) Drape the cloths over the turkey while it cooks. Periodically, baste through the cheesecloth with more butter.
6. When the turkey is fully cooked (time will vary depending on the size of your turkey), remove it from the oven and place in a tent of foil for at least 30 minutes before carving. If you want, you can take the skin off before tenting the turkey and re-crisp it in the oven when you're ready to serve. Also feel free to confit the legs and roast the breast separately if you desire.