Sheri’s Favorite Way to Cook a Turkey

Many of you have been asking how to best prepare your Polyface pastured turkey. There are many ways of baking a turkey and if you have a favorite method, then just disregard this post and go with it. This is my favorite way to prepare a turkey. This recipe was adapted  from the recipe in the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

First, I like to brine my turkey. To brine means to soak the turkey in a salt water solution. It helps the bird to retain moisture during roasting and gives a little extra flavor. You will need:

  • 1 Polyface turkey, 14-24 lbs (you can adjust the recipe for a smaller bird as necessary)
  • 1 clean bucket or container large enough to immerse the whole bird
  • 2 -3 lbs of salt (I use kosher salt, you can also use table salt)
  • 2 -3 gallons of water

Basically you want a brine with 1 lb of salt for every gallon of water. Place the turkey into the bucket and pour the salt/water solution over it until it is completely immersed. Place in a very cool spot for about 4-6 hours. I usually cover mine with a wet cloth or weight the turkey down, it has a tendency to float.

After the soaking, remove the turkey from the salt water and rinse thoroughly, inside and out.
I usually throw a quartered onion into the cavity of the bird for baking. I also leave the legs tucked.

  • 4-6 Tbsp butter, melted, plus more for basting later

Brush the turkey all over with the butter, then lay it breast side down on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Balls of foil are great for keeping it upright if you don’t have an official turkey roaster.

  • 2/3 cup water

Pour water into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Bake at 325 degrees with the breast side down for about 2 hours, basting the legs and back at least twice with more butter.

Carefully turn the turkey so that the breast is up and continue baking until your thermometer reads 165 degrees – about 30-60 minutes more depending on the size of your turkey. Be sure to continue basting it with either more butter or the juices of the pan. (I found that my 14 lb bird was nearly done and just finished browning the skin at this point)

Note from Joy of Cooking: “If the turkey approaches doneness before the breast has browned, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees for the last 5-10 minutes of roasting.”

Remove the turkey to a serving platter and let stand for 20-40 minutes before carving.

Do you have a favorite turkey recipe to share? Post it below!

Happy Thanksgiving! God’s blessings on you and your family.

I have posted this recipe on a pdf file online. You can print it here.

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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18 Responses to Sheri’s Favorite Way to Cook a Turkey

  1. Rachel Hoff says:

    I have a similar recipe but instead of water you use apple juice and you also add brown sugar and various spices. So delicious!

  2. gail clark says:

    Hi Sheri,

    I was told at Rebeccas in Charlottesville where I bought my Polyface farm turkey that it would be best to brine the turkey as no saline ws injected in to your turkeys. I don’t like to brine because it seems to get too salty.

    The question is will the turkey be dry or not taste that good if I decided not to brine it?

    Thankd, Gail Clark

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Hi Gail,
      No, you can cook it without brining it. My mother-in-law never brines her turkey and it’s great. It’s all up to your personal preferences.

      Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  3. Sounds like a great recipe. Although I have yet to make a turkey for Thanksgiving, our in-laws fry a turkey every year. We love it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Grace Hernandez says:

    I must admit our Polyface/Buxton Farm turkey was DIVINE! SO tender. What a treat!

  5. Jonathan says:

    I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey this year and I did it in a smoker. You could replicate the results in a gas grill, however. Brining did not make it overly salty and it was the juiciest bird I’ve ever had. Delicious turkey + great recipe = happy family.

  6. Shrader Thomas says:

    I really love your cooking posts. That Cheesy Squash Casserole was awesome!

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  9. Richard Weiss says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I use the Alton Brown recipe for brining and cooking the bird, but wanted to say that he tells you to microwave an apple and an onion for 5 minutes and then stuff that inside the bird with fresh herbs and such. I also actually put in an orange that’s been cut in half. It’s a great recipe that’s similar to yours with just a few more ingredients! Have a great Holiday!

  10. We cut out backbone and flatten turkeys (spatchcock – for easier handling and more even cooking), brine overnight, pat dry and allow to dry further in fridge for an hour, pepper and herbs rubbed and tucked under the skin, smoke uber low for the most part of the day, then grill or put under the broiler to crisp the skin. We do several of these this way every year for Thanksgiving. Slice the breast meat and vacuum seal and freeze for many future sandwiches and salad. Leg and thigh meat get shredded and frozen for use later in smoked turkey salad sandwiches, enchiladas, etc… non smoked trimmings (neck, feet, backbone, wing tips, etc…) go into stockpot. Giblets get cooked and eaten as we go along… We treat chicken in the same manner, smoking and brining time is less though. Happy Thanksgiving Polyface Team!

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