Thanksgiving is lapping at the patio doors. It seems to be approaching earlier than ever before, and there is so much to do. The silver needs polishing, the napkins need ironing and the turkey needs brining. Brining—it’s a funny thing. Similar to the marinating process, it’s meant to help keep meat moist and flavorful through the cooking process by soaking the meat in a salt solution. Many swear by the wet brine.

Dry brine, on the other hand, is more akin to rubbing seasoning on meat. Those who know it will argue that dry brining produces a better texture to the meat over a wet brine. It’s definitely easier and less sloppy!

Does it really make the turkey better? The meat juicier? The skin crispier? We enjoyed our super flavorful and moist turkey, though the pepper glaze may have had something to do with that. Dry brine your turkey, with or without the Fat and Happy pepper glaze, and then you be the judge. Then let us all know what you think!

Dry-Brined and Pepper Glazed Turkey

  • 12-15 lb turkey
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt (1 tablespoon per every 5 lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 orange, quartered\
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, quartered

Optional, for bottom of roasting pan:

  • 2 carrot, chopped into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalks, chopped into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2-4 small potatoes, quartered

Brine the Turkey: Wash the turkey and pat it dry (remove gizzard and neck)
Sprinkle the salt all over the turkey (inside, bottom side, breast side, thighs and all)
Cover the turkey to keep air out (place in a pan and cover with plastic wrap or place in a bag)
Hold in the refrigerator for 3 days
Uncover the turkey on the final night, but keep in the refrigerator
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking to allow to come to room temperature
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Butter & Stuff the Turkey: Mix together the butter with the paprika, cumin, seasoning salt and pepper. Rub the turkey with the flavored butter
Stuff the turkey with the quartered orange, lime and onion

Cook the Turkey: Place the turkey breast-side down in your roasting pan
Add the optional veggies to the bottom of the pan if using
Cook for 30 minutes, remove from oven and flip the bird breast side up (it will be hot, so use a kitchen towel)
Return turkey to oven, turn temperature down to 350 degrees for about 2 hours

If using the Pepper Glaze: Pour half of the Pepper Glaze (recipe below) over the turkey, return to the oven for about another 1/2 hour
Use a meat thermometer to test doneness (it should read 165 degrees in the deep thigh. Be careful not to touch the bone though)
Transfer the bird to a carving board and tent with tinfoil. Let rest for 15-30 minutes
Make the Pepper Gravy, noted below.
Carve the turkey once all the fixings are ready

Ancho Pepper Glaze and Gravy

  • 2 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 2 dried Arbol or cayenne peppers
  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons quince jelly
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups broth
  • Salt to taste

Pepper Glaze
Cover the peppers with the hot water. Soak, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove the stems; keep the seeds if you want more heat. Place the pepper, soaking liquid, cumin and the paprika into the blender. Blend on high until everything is smooth. Use half as directed above for the glaze while the turkey is roasting; use the other half for the gravy.

Pepper Gravy
Once the turkey is out of the oven and pan, set the pan over medium heat, whisk together the drippings with the reserved Pepper Glaze and broth. Mix together the cornstarch and the cold water, and whisk into the gravy pan. Simmer about 15 minutes to thicken. Season with salt if needed.

Chickpea Stuffing

  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can chickpeas, smoosh half of them
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • drizzle of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups broth, veggie or chicken
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (or craisins)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • Seasoning salt and fresh black pepper

Lightly sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, cumin and chili powder over medium heat. In the meantime, rinse the chickpeas, smoosh half of them using a potato smasher or the bottom of a drinking glass. Add all the chickpeas and green chilies to the pan, toss to combine.

Add the broth and dried cherries, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. Pour into a casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes covered. Remove cover, top with the pumpkin seeds and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve while hot.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques: The stuffing is gluten free and can be vegetarian free…in case a big bird will not be making an appearance at your dinner this year. If you use the pepper glaze, the turkey skin will not be as crispy.

For more recipes, go to Monique’s blog:

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