Hopefully everyone is ready for thanksgiving and your bird is defrosted (don't be like me, mine is not even purchased! But then, I am hoping to get a fresh one - plus we only have 3 adults this year because well, I said so!). Now, once your bird is defrosted and ready to be seasoned you may have already added some salt. If you are a big fan of Cook's Illustrated , they actually recommend one tsp. per pound at least a day before as opposed to brining, which can leave the skin soggy - and who hell wants soggy turkey skin? Not this guy!
If you are in the know and have picked up you POULTRY not PALTRY rub from either Trio in Carmel or the Hahn Tasting Room in the SLH, then you are going to indeed have the best bird on the block*! The rub does contain some salt, so dial back your salt if you are going to use my rub spice blend. If you have a giant bird then you want to salt it 2 days prior if you can to really let the salt penetrate into the breasts and the thighs. This will help your turkey hold on to its moisture while you're roasting it. For smaller turkeys, chicken, or other dinosaur meat you can add the salt and the seasoning at the same time the day before or even the morning of on the little guys. The salt in the blend is relatively low, but is just right if you were just seasoning chicken breasts, thighs, Cornish hens...etc. So for my tastes I will be adding 1/2 tsp. of salt per pound for my turkey but may do a little less for a 3-4 pound chicken. The other things that I will do for my bird(s) is to loosen the skin from the meat and spread seasoned butter under the skin.
Here's how I did it for my roast chicken at La Paulée de Monterey this year at Wrath winery: I melted unsalted Kerrygold butter and stirred in my POULTRY not PALTRY with a little extra salt and then drizzled the melted butter between the meat and the skin, using my hand to squeeze it and move it around through the skin. I used the drippings and melted runoff to baste it while roasting. We started low temp and finished high for browning (when cooking a small chicken, you can break it down and throw it in a screaming hot skillet to really brown the skin - it doesn't suck...) Some sources call for your oven to be between 325F to 350F. I liked our results at 280F, but this will obviously increase the cook time so once again, if you have a giant-ass velociraptor in your oven, you may want to increase your temp a little more, or just plan up to 8 hours roasting time if it is a stuffed 30 pounder. I personally like my dressing with some crunch (and yes, I'll re-post that on here too from last year when I put it up on Hahn's website and served a version of it this last weekend at their Wine Club Party), so I just stuff my bird with veggies and thyme sprigs.
A quick example of how I am rolling my little gobbler this year: Turkey weighs 15 pounds. I will mix 2 tbsp salt with 2 tbsp POULTRY not PALTRY, then mix that into 1/2 C melted unsalted butter and rub that all over under the skin. Then I'll shove some parsley stems, carrots, fennel, thyme, celery, and onions into a very uncomfortable place; like the back of a Volkswagen ;) I'll slowly roast at 180F and plan about four hours. I'll actually warm my potatoes, green bean casserole, and dressing in there during the last 60 to 90 minutes. I'll pull the turkey and turn the heat up to 400F for 10-15 minutes - 5 of which will be preheating anyway - to let the dressing, green beans and potatoes get a good crunch going. Once I pull them, I'll increase my heat to 450F and then put my turkey back in fr 5-10, until it gets crispy on the outside, but has already started to rest and will not increase it's temperature dramatically at all. This will give it about 25 to 30 minutes of resting, while still serving it with good, hot skin.
Now, off I go to the store!
*Unless your neighbors are awesome and are also reading this; then you have to settle for a tie. Sorry.
Dyon J. Foster, Chef/Owner
Tips, tricks, tutorials, videos and odd ramblings that will probably mention food and drink!
Chef’s Palette Spice Rubs