Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Bay-Brined Roasted Turkey

November 21, 2011
The first turkey I ever roasted was for my brother and his girlfriend in their cookie-cutter apartment in Seattle. I was two or three years into college and had spent the summer before interning in Napa Valley, so I knew everything there is to know about cooking, end of story.

Just kidding, there’s more….

I don’t specifically remember how we brined the turkey, or for how long, but it came out lookin’ good. I was very pleased with myself and proceeded to make gravy from the pan drippings (I’d seen my grandmother do this, so obviously this is what you do). As an aside, I’d also seen my grandmother “roast” many turkeys in a plastic bag so….

That gravy was so salty, but for some reason we ate it anyway. Shortly after the meal, my brother was sprawled out on the couch, moaning in a way that didn’t indicate happiness. He was the kind of uncomfortable a pair of stretchy pants couldn’t cure.

And this, my friends, is what Thanksgiving is all about—not brining your relatives with salty gravy, but those kitchen gaffes that can be retold in years to come. I’ll save the one about cooking a 26-pound turkey in an apartment-sized electric oven with the bottom element burnt out for another time.

Bay-Brined Roasted Turkey

Yield: 12-14


  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 14 dried bay leaves, 10 crushed, 4 left whole
  • 1 whole fresh, or thawed frozen turkey (22 to 24 pounds), neck and giblets removed
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine kosher salt and crushed bay leaves in a small bowl. Rinse inside and outside of turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Rub 2 tablespoons salt mixture evenly inside turkey cavity, 2 tablespoons on each leg, 1 1/2 tablespoons on each wing, and 2 tablespoons on each breast. Set turkey on a baking sheet lined with a rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for 48 hours.
  2. Remove turkey from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, wine and whole bay leaves in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 425°F and arrange rack in the lowest position. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Rub remaining olive oil all over turkey and season with black pepper on all sides and inside the cavity. Place turkey in a rack set over a roasting pan and tie legs together with twine.
  4. Place turkey, legs first into the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then baste with wine mixture. Reduce temperature to 350°F, rotate pan and return to oven. Continue rotating pan and basting every 30 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh without touching any bone reads 165°F.
  5. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit 30 minutes before carving.

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