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Heritage Turkey Tips

The best way to treat your heritage bird: bag the brine and use the salt cure method instead.

If you’ve plunked down a serious wad of cash for a heritage turkey, the last thing you want to do is drown it in a bucket of brine. Brining is fine for the standard supermarket turkey, most of which need a major moisture infusion to keep them from the dreaded bone-dry-breast syndrome, but the heritage bird requires a more tender treatment.

We rely on the “salt-cure” method, which was first popularized by Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons in 2006 (he took his inspiration from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café and her technique of pre-salting chicken). Says Parsons:

“Salting works like brining, without the water. You just sprinkle the turkey with salt, and then set it aside for four days for a 12 to 16 pound bird. At first, the salt pulls moisture from the meat, but as time passes, almost all of those juices are reabsorbed, bringing the salt along with them.”

For the past two years we’ve feasted on BN Ranch heritage turkeys prepared with the salt-cure method, and they have been by far the best meat to ever grace our Thanksgiving table. Here’s a brief guide to how we’ve prepared them.

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