Photo by Alex Lau, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski, Food Styling by Susie Theodorou
Our mission: To miraculously roast a turkey that is well seasoned, juicy, and—can we type this loudly enough?—PROPERLY COOKED! Every part of the bird deserves equal love and appreciation, without a dry bite in the house. Our solution: The absolute inarguably best way to cook a turkey is to break it down into parts, dry-brine it, and roast it on a wire rack in a baking sheet. The parts expose every piece for even cooking. If the idea of doing surgery on a raw turkey gives you a stress rash, ask the butcher to do it.
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- 8–10 servings
- 1 (12–14 lb.) turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. whole pink or black peppercorns
- ½ cup Diamond Crystal or ¼ cup plus 1½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. plus ⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- Small handful of hardy herbs (such as sage, rosemary, bay leaves, and/or thyme)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 (2×1") strips orange zest
- ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 6 Tbsp. neutral oil (such as vegetable, peanut, or canola)
- Special Equipment:
- A spice mill
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a cutting board and pat dry. Grip a wing and pull it outward so you can see where it attaches to the body. Using a sharp boning or chef’s knife, cut though the joint to separate the wing from the breast (if you hit bone, you’re in the wrong spot; pull the wing out farther to help you get into the place where the joint meets the socket). Remove wing; repeat on the other side.
- Cut through skin connecting 1 leg to carcass. Pull leg back until the ball joint pops out of its socket; cut through the joint to separate leg. Repeat on the other side.
- Now for the breast: Position the turkey breast side down with the opening facing you. Using kitchen shears, cut along one side of backbone until you get all the way through the neck end, then turn the turkey 180°F and cut through the other side to remove the backbone (save it for making stock).
- Very finely grind black and pink peppercorns in a spice mill or mortar and pestle; transfer to a medium bowl. Add salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and use your fingers to mix together.
- Place turkey pieces, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle salt mixture liberally all over turkey, patting to adhere. You may not need all of it, but it’s good to have extra since some will end up on the baking sheet. Chill bird, uncovered, at least 24 hours and up to 2 days.
- Remove turkey from wire rack and rinse baking sheet and rack if needed (turkey will most likely release some liquid). Line baking sheet with 3 layers of foil to make cleanup easy and set rack back inside. Arrange turkey pieces on rack, skin side up, and let sit at room temperature 2–3 hours to help decrease the cooking time.
- Meanwhile, cook herbs, garlic, orange zest, soy sauce, vinegar, and remaining ⅓ cup brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and glaze thickens slightly (it should just barely coat a spoon), 10–12 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.
- Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°F. Rub turkey with oil and pour 1 cup water into baking sheet. Roast turkey, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until skin is mostly golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and continue to roast turkey, brushing with glaze every 20 minutes and adding more water by ½-cupfuls as needed to maintain some liquid in baking sheet, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 150°F, and 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thighs, 50–70 minutes longer (total cooking time will be 1–1½ hours). Skin should be deep golden brown and shiny. Transfer turkey to a cutting board; tent loosely with foil. Let rest 30–60 minutes before carving.
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