I Have The Poison Control Hotline Number Close By, Just In Case

I like to cook new things. I even like to cook, and try, new things on holidays. My dear wife does not. My dear wife likes traditional home-cooked holiday meals. My dear wife has still not forgiven me for our first Thanksgiving together 14 years ago, when we ate at the Jonathan Club because that's where my grandparents wanted to throw a dinner. (The fact that she was relentlessly interrogated by my female relatives may have something to do with it.) If an item of food is not visible in Freedom From Want, my dear wife wants no part of it.

I'm past my free will issues now and at peace with this. So I was somewhat surprised when my dear wife, inspired by an article in the Los Angeles Times, asked me to dry-brine the turkey this year.

I did it last night, using a mixture of kosher salt, diced fresh rosemary, and lemon zest. You clean the bird carefully first, dry it, then rub it vigorously with a generous sprinkling of this mixture.

Now, I really like salt. It's amazing that my blood pressure doesn't have more digits. But this seems like an awful lot of salt even to me. The experts swear that he salt will draw out all the juices and flavors without making the bird taste like the bottom of a pretzel bag. We'll see. If it doesn't work out, I will know who to blame.

Otherwise, I'm making it simpler this year. I'm passing up my mother's yam casserole, and therefore recovering roughly two months of our lives that would be spent by consuming that dish of butter and sugar. I'm going with my favorite stuffing (mushroom and carmelized onion stuffing from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook), a cheddar and chive mashed potato casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, and an cider gravy. Someone else is doing green vegetables and desert. Only 13 people. It will be practically relaxing.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Brining seems to be all the rage this season. I've been tempted to try my first brine as well, though this one's a standard kosher salt/vegetable stock/spices (most of which I don't own) concoction. I'll be cooking up the solution tonight so I can apply it to my dear bird tomorrow. Here's hoping yours and mine both come out great!

  2. Andrew says

    Three days from now, when your home smells of the Dead Sea and your dessicated body is being licked by neighborhood deer, I will raise a leftover turkey sandwich to your memory.

  3. says

    I've brined my turkey the last few years, and it's made a huge difference. I don't do a dry brine though – just the standard wet one. It's generally a good thing for poultry.

    I think I was first convinced of it after doing a buttermilk brine as part of a fried chicken recipe. It sounds foul, but the results were amazing.

  4. says

    I've tried the dry-coating method on roasts; it seems to work very well. I've never tried it on a turkey, but I have tried the traditional salt-and-sugar-and-spices-and-water type, and that seems to do very well, particularly in the classic problem of the dark and white meat normally cooking at different speeds.

  5. smurfy says

    One of my favorite aspects of brining is that it ensures that I will not forget to thaw the turkey…again.