I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again. Sea Ranch, in North West Sonoma Co, is one of my favorite places on the planet. Wild. Breathtakingly beautiful. Coastal. Amazing light. An easy place for me to disconnect, and disconnecting isn’t something that comes easy to me these days. So it was with little hesitation that I complied with Monkey’s wish to spend Thanksgiving here, with the hounds in tow.
We plotted our mini feast for a few days, collecting ingredients like tender baby carrots, red-skinned potatoes and bok choi, from our friends Sarah and Seth at Open Field Farm; picking up a turkey breast on the bone; discussing the kind of dressing (or stuffing) Monkey wanted – sausage, please – and what to make for dessert. For the latter I decided to play around making a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake – look for a separate post on that.
I know from Samin Nosrat, that it’s vital to salt the meat pretty much as soon as you get it home, and while I’ve read a lot about brining, transporting a piece of meat 70 miles, while it sloshed around hairpin bends in salty water, didn’t really appeal. So, I was thrilled to read about dry brining on The Kitchn blog, especially because it seemed perfect for turkey parts.
Three tricks to dry brining:
- Do this at least 1-3 days before you want to cook your meat
- Gently peel the skin back and rub the salty seasoning into the cavity as well as on the skin itself
- Leave the turkey uncovered in the fridge so the skin drys out. This will give you a very crispy finish.
Our turkey breast weighed about 6.5lbs and took just over an hour to cook, with at least two cups of homemade chicken broth surrounding the meat. Our accompaniments included a sausage meat stuffing from Constance Spry’s Cookery Book – made with wonderfully seasoned sage-y sausage meat from Thistle Meats. I stuffed this underneath the rib cage to given even thickness to the whole piece and to keep everything moist. This worked a treat with the brining. The turkey was insanely moist and juicy.
Thyme-roasted baby carrots, red-skinned potatoes mashed with their skins on, mushrooms sautéd in butter and bok choi greens braised in chicken broth, completed our plates.
I started the oven at 450 degrees and brought it down to about 400 after about 10 minutes. I was working with a stove I didn’t know in our vacation rental home, so I was a bit concerned it may not work out, but the end result was a knock-out. Bacon added, at Monkey’s behest, in the final 20 minutess, crisped up nicely for an additional treat.
The end result… Delicious.