Dry-brined Turkey, marriage, and the art of compromise


I came home from the grocery store on Tuesday and asked Kitty, “What about grilling a turkey this year? I could spatchcock it and cook it on charcoal.”

“Do you really want to try a recipe for the first time when we’ve got a bunch of people coming over for Thanksgiving? You make such a beautiful roast turkey.”

I wanted to say “Um…yes I would love to experiment on my friends,” but I refrained. This was also Kitty’s way of telling me that she really wanted a roast turkey. So like any good cook and moderately obedient husband, I secretly compromised. For years I’ve wet-brined a turkey in a simple water/vinegar/salt/sugar solution and oven-roasted it with butter under the skin and a little basting. To keep the roast-bird tradition going and satisfy my neediness in regards to experimentation, I took a cue from Kenji Lopez-Alt and dry brined a turkey in the method they call the “Judy Bird.” It was a smash hit. The meat was tender, flavorful and moist. The skin was a beautiful dark amber and the guests had no idea that they were uninformed Guinea pigs. Everyone was happy.


I made only slight modifications to the original recipe from Food 52 and the Los Angeles Times. Namely, I stuffed compound butter under the skin and didn’t use a rack for roasting.

Everybody’s happy.