Saturday, November 24, 2012

Classic Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

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The turkey is one intimidating bird. More than likely, whenever you're making a turkey, there's some big event surrounding that meal. Thanksgiving...Christmas...Easter...maybe a birthday or anniversary. And more than likely, it's not just you and your spouse eating the meal. There will be mother-in-laws. And grandparents. And the weird uncle. We all have a weird uncle who always show up when there's a turkey in the oven.

Since it was my first year hosting Thanksgiving, I admit, I was intimidated. This thing weighed more than my 2-year-old niece. I watched about a dozen Martha Stewart videos before roasting it, and I can say with confidence, I get it. The turkey was moist and the epitome of perfection, if I do say so myself (thanks to Martha).

If you search the web, you'll fine a million different ways to cook a turkey, but I wanted to keep it simple. There are so many other things to do on Thanksgiving.




Like playing tag.




And snuggling.




And competing in the annual game of duck-duck-goose, which, as we all know, is a must.




Also, apologizing for spitting in Grandma's face.




She forgave him, in the name of Thanksgiving.

So let's keep it simple and tasty. Here we go!


Brine Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Seasonings (here are a few suggestions):
    • Basil
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
Turkey Ingredients:


I'll start with thawing. Please don't forget to thaw your turkey. Since I am no expert on cooking/thawing times, please refer to these nifty Butterball calculators. They will tell you (based on the weight of your turkey) how long to thaw the turkey, how long to cook it, and even what size turkey is advisable for your crowd. The best way to thaw your turkey is to put it in the fridge, which normally takes a few days.

While this is completely optional, I decided to brine my turkey. I had heard it makes the turkey even more moist than usual, so I thought, what the heck? Let's give it a try.

Once your turkey is thawed, pull out the innards, rinse and pat dry. Have some sort of large container on hand. I chose a cooler, but some people use buckets. Fill the container with cold water so it is enough to cover the turkey.

In a large pot, I brought 3 cups of salt and 3 cups of sugar to a boil in about 15 cups of water until the salt and sugar disintegrated. I diced up an onion, a few leeks, a few stocks of celery, basil, rosemary and thyme, and threw it in. I then added that to the water in the cooler.


Once all the water had cooled a bit (so it wasn't boiling) I threw the turkey in. If your fridge is big enough, put the container in there. If not, add a ton of ice and leave it somewhere safe, like in the garage or in your kitchen. Let it sit for no more than 24 hours.




If you look at the turkey after it's been brining, you see that it's almost a hue of blue. This is good, according to Martha.

All right, let's get started on cooking the turkey.




Rinse both the outside and inside of the turkey.




Pat dry.




We're going to put salt and pepper in the cavity. Be generous-I added about 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of pepper.




Really get it in there. Stick the rear in the end. Shake it around.




Turkey wings are weird. And not pliable. But we're going to push through.




Fold them both in front of the turkey. You may hear a snap or two, but keep going!




Tuck them under. It's almost the equivalent of putting your fists in your armpit and then sticking your elbows out in front of your body as far as you can. If that makes any sense.




We're going to butter this thing up. I'd advise that you do this with a toddler who is beautiful and intelligent and knows her ABC's.




This toddler has to be willing to get their hands dirty. Use some softened butter and just cover all the surfaces.




And try to look adorable while doing it.




Pull up the skin flap near the rear end. It will stretch, so don't afraid to get in there.




Butter under the skin. Try not to think about what you're doing.




Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the outside of the bird.




Now, I believe in the bags. From what I've been told, no one has ever messed up a bagged bird. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on the inside. This keeps the bag from popping open.




Open the bag nice and wide.




Stick the bird in. This is a two-person job.




Tie the bag up.




It needs to be on there really tight to keep the moisture in.




Toss it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees using the cooking time on either the box or the Butterball website I listed above. If you are using a bag, you will not need to baste the turkey.




Once the cooking time is up, you're going to stick a meat thermometer in the deepest part of the turkey, which is normally the thigh. Go very slowly and be careful not to hit the thigh, as that releases the juices and results in a dried out turkey. In every case, the meat should be at least 165°F. If any place is under that temperature, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes.




Let the turkey sit for about 30 minutes before carving. This lets the juices settle back where they need to be.

Serve it up! And make sure you keep the drippings in the pan to make homemade gravy.

Love and the classics,



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