Can we talk turkey? The main attraction for Thanksgiving is your turkey. So why are you not paying more attention to it? Some people seem to unwrap the turkey, place it in a roasting pan, place tons of butter on this big bird and place it in the oven. Then, they seem to open the door constantly to baste with the butter. And that is what they call turkey. Well I don’t think so! Why not pay closer attention to your turkey, especially since it is the main attraction. I must say this is the one time of year that I advocate lots of salt and butter, but because of that this recipe really works. The secret folks is in the brining. If you want a tender, luscious, mouth watering bird to serve your guests; then my tip to you is to brine that bird! I am serious folks, this is my secret. I never cook a turkey without brining it first. And trust me once you do you’ll never go back. Once your guests taste this mouth watering bird they’ll be begging to come back for Thanksgiving every year. Well, wait a second, maybe we should all rethink this. Just kidding, carry on. Below is the turkey recipe that I make every year, try it, I guarantee not to disappoint.
- Start the night before so that there is ample time to brine the turkey properly. You’ll also need a clean, heavy duty garbage bag or large bin to brine the turkey in.
- The turkey should be completely thawed and the body cavity should be rinsed clean before starting.
- Brining the bird is important to ensure it stays moist and tasty.
- Use a fresh, natural turkey, no Butterballs.
- Please save the turkey carcass, neck and giblets for turkey soup on Friday.
Brine for an 18-20 lb turkey
- 4 cups of kosher salt
- 4 gallons of water
- 1/2 cup peppercorns
- 2 cups of raw sugar
- 3 large carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of sage
- In a very large pot over a medium high heat, heat 1 gallon of water; salt, sugar and peppercorns. Simmer until the salt and sugar dissolve.
- Allow to cool and place into a large container. Add remaining water. Add carrots, celery and herbs.
- Place turkey inside garbage or tub and add the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
- Be sure to rinse the brine completely from the turkey prior to cooking.
Cooking the turkey
- 1 18-20 lb fresh, natural turkey (brined)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to massage into turkey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
- 6 sprigs of fresh sage, leaves removed and chopped
- 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
- 2 teaspoons of garlic, minced
- 1 package of cheese cloth
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- 2 large carrots, cut up
- 2 stalks of celery, cut up
- Preheat oven to 425. Place turkey in a large roasting pan.
- In a medium sauce pan melt 1 stick butter. Add 1 cup of olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, ground pepper, thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes until butter and oil is permeated by the garlic and herbs.
- Set the mixture aside to cool. Open the cheese cloth sheet and place it in the sauce pan to soak up the butter, oil mixture and herbs.
- Use the 1/3 cup of olive oil to massage into the turkey, season with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Once the cheese cloth, infused with the oil, butter, herb mixture is cool; cover the turkey with the cheese cloth and tuck it under the legs and wings.
- Pour any remaining mixture from the sauce pan on the turkey. Place the onion, carrots and herbs inside the turkey.
- Place the turkey in the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes, if turkey is browning too quickly, place aluminum foil over the top of the turkey. Reduce heat to 350. Cook an additional 2 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the size of the turkey (15 to 20 minutes per pound, in total). Baste every 30 minutes, remember to loosely cover with aluminum foil as necessary.
- When thermometer reads 165 degrees remove the bird from the oven. Let the turkey stand at least 15 to 20 minutes before carving. At this point while the turkey is resting, the thermometer should reach 180 degrees. Absolutely do not pierce the turkey prior to 20 minutes of rest time. Reserve the drippings for the gravy.
Alright, now you have it. Follow this recipe to a successful turkey. I cannot conclude this blog without pointing out some of the mishaps some people make while roasting a turkey. Therefore:
- Never ever pay attention to that little tiny thermometer that is inside some of the turkeys you purchase. That thermometer is meant to pop when the temperature has reach 175 degrees. Trust me my friends, you will be eating very dry turkey.
- In fact, your thermometer should read 165 degrees in the oven, when you remove the bird let it rest for 20 minutes without piercing so that it reaches the ideal temperature of 180 degrees. This is a common mistake that people tend to remove the turkey at 180 and of course while it sits and rests it will continue to cook, obviously overcooking.
- Do not cook any other items in the over while you are cooking the turkey. You will not have a perfect turkey.
- With this method of using the cheese cloth, it is simply not necessary to baste constantly.
- Here’s a tip my friends, this is important, pay attention. Very often turkeys to get overcooked, do not panic; here’s a secret for that. Slice turkey extremely thin, and make sure your gravy is extraordinary.
Bon apetit and kali orexi!