Today we are going to be sharing our thanksgiving favorite, the ultimate crispy dry aged turkey method. You may or may not be familiar with the process of dry aging. For those of you who are new to the process, we’re here to help. To put simply, dry aging is a controlled method whereby moisture is drawn out from the meat to concentrate the flavor. The longer the meat is left to dry, the more tender and tasty it will be.
Dry aging a turkey is the same as dry brining a turkey in the sense that the end goal is to get the skin and meat to absorb salt, to create a crispy exterior and a tender interior. Unlike beef and other meats, the dry aged turkey process is relatively short as it is even more delicate and does not require the same length of time.
Why is turkey traditionally served at thanksgiving?
The history of the thanksgiving turkey is a bit of a mystery, however, historians have a few different theories on the tradition. As a result of letters and records kept by early American settlers, we know that when the colonists sat down to eat with the Wampanoag, two of the foods on the menu were beef and fowl. This meal would later become known as the first thanksgiving. Whilst we cannot confirm exactly which fowl was served, a letter by pilgrim Edward Winslow mentions a turkey hunting trip prior to the first thanksgiving meal.
Furthermore, the wild turkey is a native bird of North America with Benjamin Franklin claiming that the turkey made a more suitable national bird for the US than the bald eagle. Not everyone agreed with this however.
Ingredients for the dry aged turkey recipe
- 1 12- to 16-pound turkey, preferably a heritage or pasture raised bird
- Kosher salt – 1 tablespoon per 4 pounds of bird
- Brown Sugar - 1 tablespoon per 4 pounds of bird
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed, finely chopped
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 Orange (optional)
Method for the dry aged turkey
Place the turkey on a sheet pan fitted with an oven safe non-stick grid to allow air to circulate around the turkey and allow for any drippings to collect into the sheet pan.
A butcher will spatchcock or butterfly the turkey by removing the backbone and allowing it to lie flat and completely open. This creates more surface area and a much shorter cooking time so a 12 – 16 pounds turkey can cook at 350 degrees in under two hours. It’s not absolutely necessary but is helpful to save on time. If your preference is to not spatchcock the turkey, we recommend that you truss legs with kitchen twine after seasoning the cavity with the salt mixture and /or adding onions, garlic cloves, lemons, oranges or even apples. These options add an extra layer of flavor to the turkey and drippings.
Mix the salt, pepper, herbs and orange zest in a bowl then rub into every area surface of the turkey and between the skin and meat.
Place the salt rubbed turkey on the sheet tray with a griddle in the Steak Locker about 3 to 4 days prior cooking. Keeping the UV Light on is helpful in keeping the bad bacteria from multiplying.
To cook the dry aged turkey once the process in the Steak Locker is completed, we recommend placing it breast side up in a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack to allow for drippings to collect at the bottom. The above mentioned aromatics may be included under the rack. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 90 minutes then continue to cook until the thermometer reads 160 when inserted into the thigh or breast.
Remove the turkey and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes, it will continue to cook and will reach 165 internal temperature.
This dry aging method may also be used prior to any braised, roasted, grilled, fried, boiled, broiled or barbecued turkey recipes.
Why use a separate fridge for dry aged turkey?
Dry aging is a delicate process with a variety of elements to consider. There are lots of things that can go wrong, for instance cross contamination of flavors and the risk of spoilage. Fortunately, Steak Locker has come to the rescue by creating a product that prevents these issues from happening. We have created the world's first smart dry age fridge that uses smart technology and the addition of a smart app to help you get the best results from your dry aged meat.
The reason this smart technology is so useful is because with dry aging, if the environment is too warm, the meat will spoil. If the environment is too cold, the meat can freeze and the dry aging process will stop. Our smart technology allows you to constantly monitor the temperature and humidity of the fridge whilst providing the right ventilation and a UV light to prevent any bacteria from developing on the meat.
The other reason why we suggest using a separate fridge for dry aged turkey is the risk of cross contamination. If you were to dry age your meat in the fridge you use every day produce like milk, flavors could end up contaminating each other. For example, your milk may end up tasting like dry aged meat or your meat may end up tasting like milk. Furthermore, if you were to dry age your meat in your everyday fridge, every time you open the fridge door you risk changing the temperature and humidity levels inside the fridge which can lead to spoilage.
Using the Steak Locker, not only do you get to avoid the risk of spoilage, you also get to avoid the risk of cross contamination
Summary of dry aged turkey
If you have heard of dry aging before, we hope we have encouraged you to put your Steak Locker into action and see its versatility for yourself. For those of you who are new to dry aging, we hope this article has given you a better understanding of what dry aging is and why we love it. If you decide to make dry aged turkey this thanksgiving, please share your results with us by tagging us in your turkey pictures on our social media channels.