From America's Test Kitchen
Brining is the best way to guarantee a moist turkey, but it isn’t always the most practical way, especially if you have limited refrigerator space. We wanted to develop an alternative method to brining that would both season the meat and keep it moist.
Instead of brining, we turned to salting—it seasons the meat, but no bucket is required. We wanted to make sure the salt penetrated the meat, but we didn’t want to tear the skin. We found that either chopsticks or the handle of a wooden spoon worked well to help us gently separate the skin from the meat. To ensure moist breast meat, we chilled the breast by placing a small bag of ice inside the cavity against the breast and setting the turkey, breast side down, on ice. This trick brought down the temperature of the breast, thus allowing it to cook through over a longer period in the oven (more in line with the cooking time of the dark meat) without drying out.
Serves 14 to 16
This recipe was developed and tested using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you have Morton's Kosher Salt, which is denser than Diamond Crystal, use only 6 3/4 teaspoons of salt in the cavity, 3 3/4 teaspoons of salt per each half of the breast, and 1 teaspoon of salt per leg. Table salt is too fine and not recommended for this recipe. If you are roasting a kosher or self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball), do not salt it; it already contains a good amount of sodium.