Thanksgiving is approaching, and people are starting to get things together for the big day.  And what is Thanksgiving without the main event?  That’s right.  Turkey.  The centerpiece to Thanksgiving dinners for generations.  How could I not post a recipe for Turkey?

Well here I go, then.

Turkey can be a pain to cook.  The problem with turkey (or any fowl for that matter) is it is comprised of both light and dark meat, both of which require different cooking methods and temperatures to come out just right.  Dark Meat usually requires a slightly higher temperature to cook properly, but doing that often dries out the breast meat.  Simply put, you need to find middle ground.

On top of that, turkey, just like chicken, can dry out and become bland and flavorless.  You cannot just unwrap a turkey, throw it in the oven, and expect nirvana on a plate when you take it out.  You really have to work with turkey.  You must soak it in a brine to lock in the moisture, you must cook it at the proper temperature, you must add seasonings.

And so, I shall tell you my methods for an excellent Thanksgiving Day turkey.

You will need:

1 whole non-kosher turkey, weight of your choice, completely thawed.

2 cups of kosher salt

4 quarts of water

LATER ON:

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp crushed dried rosemary OR 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped without stems

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The first step is to brine your turkey.  Do this the night before, in a decent sized bucket.  Combine the water and salt to make a salt solution, and lower the turkey into it.  Set it somewhere cold (outside, even, if the temperatures are under 40°F) and let it soak overnight.  During this time, set out your stick of butter so it will soften a bit.  Not enough to run everywhere, but rather become pliable.

The next morning, pull out your turkey and pat it dry.  Dispose of the brining solution.  Put your bird into the roasting vessel you so choose (I prefer enamel roasters).

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

In a small bowl, mix the butter, rosemary, spiced, and garlic.  Now, slip your fingers under the skin of the turkey and loosen the skin from the meat underneath.  Make sure there is a good pocket under the skin all over the bird, even  on the legs.  You might have to cut into the skin to get to some areas, but try to keep those cuts small.

Now, using your fingers, spread the butter and spice mixture underneath the skin.  Do this all over.  Make sure there is an even distribution of this mixture under the skin.  If you have any left over, smooth it on top of the skin as well.  Before you put it into the oven, drizzle the bird with olive oil.  Not too much, I’d say not 3/4 of a cup.  Then add about 3/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.  With that, either put the lid on your roaster, or put a tinfoil tent over top the turkey, and pop it into the oven.

Leave it there.  Depending on the size of your bird, it can take several hours for your turkey to finish cooking.  Keep a meat thermometer handy, and occasionally check the internal temperature of the bird at the inner thigh (without touching bone) to check for proper temperatures.  Towards the end of cooking, remove the roaster lid/tinfoil tent to nicely brown the top of the bird.

Now, some people believe you absolutely must get your turkey to 180°F.  That leads to dry turkey, and I have found that cooking a turkey to 160°F is a great middle ground to ensure nice, moist turkey while still ensuring the bird is nice and cooked.  When your bird has reached this temperature, go ahead and take it out of the oven.

Let it sit a moment, but after a bit, take a piece of skin off and get a taste.  Mmmm…crispy isn’t it?  That is a result of the butter/olive oil combination I had you slather on earlier.  It results in tasty, crispy skin that is sure to take about five years off your life.  Carve up the bird according to your wishes and serve to your adoring fans.  If you don’t have adoring fans before, you will now.

I sincerely hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.  🙂

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