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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Salt Rub and Butter Turkey and the Rest of My Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving 1

Isn't it crisp and golden looking? I know you've just been waiting and waiting to see what my turkey looked like. This was a 22.55 lb turkey.

To give you a little perspective, I told my brother to put his hands next to the bird. Except, not that way! That makes his hands look huge and it doesn't make the turkey look very impressive! Hmph!

Thanksgiving 2

OK, this way, so his hands look normal and the bird looks big. And for comparison, that pot of stuffing behind the turkey is a 5-quart stock pot so you can gauge its size for yourself.

Thanksgiving 3

I ended up only feeding 15 people this year so I went really lazy with the turkey and the rest of the menu. And let me tell you, it was a lot less work and a lot less stressful.

I did my grocery shopping on a Tuesday since I figured the turkey needed time to defrost in the fridge. I waited until the night before to do the salt rub. And I didn't start cooking until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, for dinner at 6 p.m.

I didn't stuff the turkey this year so it'd cook faster and it was done in 3.5 hours. The turkey was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside with no basting required. This was the fifth turkey I've ever cooked, and I think this method is one of the best as well as the easiest! It's an adaptation of last year's roast salted turkey, but with a much shorter brining time.

Salt Rub and Butter Turkey

You'll need:
1 turkey
1 tblsp of kosher salt per 5 lbs of turkey
1 stick of unsalted butter

If you're starting with a frozen turkey, purchase it at least 2 to 3 days before you intend to cook it so that it has time to defrost in the refrigerator.

The night before you intend to cook it, wash the turkey thoroughly inside and out and let drain on a colander. Measure out 1 tblsp of salt per 5 pounds of turkey. Thoroughly massage the salt all over the outside and inside of the turkey, making sure to concentrate on the breast where most of the meat is located.

Place the turkey breast-side up in a shallow bowl or pan and cover with plastic wrap.

About 4 hours before you intend to serve the turkey, take it out of the fridge, drain, and brush off any excess salt. Turn your oven to 425 degrees to pre-heat. Then cut 1 stick of butter into slices and place the slices underneath the skin, adding more on the breast and between the thighs, as well as rubbing it all over the outside of the turkey.

 Place your turkey in a roasting rack or shallow pan, and cook breast-side down for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, whenever you see the bird looking very golden. Flip it over so the breast side is up, and cook at 350 degrees for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours. That's it!

Take it out and let it rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to redistribute the juices before carving.

I made Chicken Noodle Soup while the turkey was cooking. Lil' sis made stuffing and peeled the potatoes, my brother mashed them. Her best friend brought green bean casserole and an awesome spinach, cranberry, walnut, mushroom, parmesan, Baco Bits salad. My brother steamed some squash, asparagus, and eggplant. My oldest uncle's wife sent over her fabulous egg rolls. My youngest aunt brought over a roast duck. I made gravy from the turkey drippings. So with all the side dishes done, we dug in.

Thanksgiving 4

With the oven freed up, I baked a Chicken Pot Pie, Lemon Chicken and Potatoes, and Biscuits. My youngest aunt's husband liked the baked chicken so much, he even asked for the recipe. :) And my youngest aunt thought my Chanh Muoi (Vietnamese Salty Pickled Lemons) looked so pretty that she asked for a jar. Anyway, here's my plate with a little of everything.

Thanksgiving 5

And a picture of the chicken pot pie. I forgot to take pictures of the baked chicken and biscuits.

Chicken Pot Pie 1

In exchange for making the pot pie, the oldest '88 made her famous pumpkin crunch. Think of it as pumpkin pie with a crunchy bottom crust with walnuts. I'd ask for the recipe, but then she wouldn't make it for me anymore. :P

Thanksgiving 6

And since the middle '87 is still studying abroad in Singapore, she asked me to save her a turkey dinner. So I washed the tray from the last of my Thanksgiving Dinner for 1 :( frozen turkey dinner experiment and saved this for her in a Ziploc baggy.

So here you go sweetie, I hope it'll taste good when you get to it in a few weeks.

Thanksgiving 7

Who made my salt rub and butter turkey?
Vuthy said, "The turkey came out great. Skin was crispy; flesh was juicy and moist, falling off the bone."
JS of Eating Club Vancouver said, "I stole a little piece of thigh meat while TS was carving the turkey and my eyes widened in amazement. It was freakishly delicious! So this is what turkey could taste like!" And TS said, "The turkey wasn't just "good," it was great! In fact, we didn't have any left over!"

1 year ago today, Pumpkin Cream Penne with Italian Sausage.


  1. Mmmm looks yum! Any creative plans for the turkey carcass?

  2. Hey, a new business for you? Packing home-made frozen turkey dinners! Looks fantastic and especially since things were low-stress this year.

  3. Ahhhhh your so nice. Can I get a frozen dinner too? ;-) Now that was a lot of food but looks fun and delicious.

  4. Ahhhhh your so nice. Can I get a frozen dinner too? ;-) Now that was a lot of food but looks fun and delicious.

  5. WC, everything sounds so wonderful. I especially like the homemade TV dinner. Although I have never had them, the preserved lemons sound like an awesome item for this menu.

  6. yum! look at that turkey! looks beautiful!

  7. is my family the greatest or what. =)

  8. this is too funny... my family also had two deep fried turkeys, eggrolls & roast duck for thanksgiving. the food was delicious. what a way to celebrate thanksgiving eh? love your blog. toni @ mpls

  9. Oh, you do deliver? Can I order? :P

  10. om nom nom nom... that turkey looks pretty good! And a whole lot less work than my mom's I'm sure. I love teh chicken pot pie thing too. That's a good idea :)

  11. Quite the spread you had for Thanksgiving! 15 people is still a lot of people, so great job feeding them all.

  12. the last photo reminded me of japanese "bento" (lunch bucket) that is carefully organized and presented..im just wondrin with all those nice looking food on the table how long did you spent in the kitchen?..i love cooking for two..when it involves a lot of person..i admit it stresses me :-)thanks for sharing your thanksgiving meal!

  13. Jeannie,
    You'll just have to check back and find out for yourself. ;)

    Hmm, but how much would people be willing to pay for that? Especially if they can just get a frozen dinner? Hehe.

    Anonymous Bill ;),
    Your wife doesn't cook turkey?

    Mary Ruth,
    Ah, the lemons are best enjoyed as a refresher during hot summers. :)


    Family? What? It was me! Me! I made your dinner!

    Hi Toni,
    Welcome! I've always wanted to try deep-fried turkey but the equipment and amount of oil just seems too much for me.

    If I had known you didn't have a turkey dinner this year, I would have saved you one too! :P

    I think making turkey pot pie out of the leftovers would have been an even better idea!

    Ha! That's half my usual crowd so that was easy for me! :P

    I spent about 3 hours in the kitchen. Much less work compared to previous years.

  14. My wife isn't the cook in the house and for some reason I have problem posting on your blog.

  15. Bill,
    I didn't realize you were the cook in the house. And what kind of problems are you having on blogger? I know sometimes comments never show up on the blog and they're never sent to my email so I didn't even realize people had commented and it didn't take until they tell me. :( Thanks for persisting!

  16. Maybe you should have roasted his hands instead. =b j/k

  17. Mmm! That picture of your turkey looks so moist and yet the skin looks so crisp and delicious. I've been looking for a good, simple recipe and yours seems perfect. We'll be trying it out this Thanksgiving. Will return with results. :-)

  18. Vuthy,
    I saw! I'll have to update this post with your results. Thanks for trying out my recipe.

  19. I used this recipe this year and it turned out fantastic! I only made a few modifications by adding some herbs to the butter rub and stuffing the cavity with a cut onion, garlic and a bunch of thyme. I've never had so many compliments on the turkey. Some guests didn't even need to use gravy. :) Thanks Wandering Chopsticks!


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