That time of the year has come again, where you search for the family recipes and remind yourself once again how to prepare that turkey. You can fry it, roast it overnight, put it in a slow cooker or make a turducken. You may scrub all over the skin a secret family spice rub or give it a bath in a brine 24 hours before it is popped in the oven. No matter what, there is a simple way in creating a delicious turkey, just like fixing a leak in a boat.
Before getting your hands dirty, the right tools and ingredients are needed to create the turkey of your dreams: a roasting pan, a roasting rack and a turkey. Make sure you have a large enough roasting pan that will fit the turkey and a couple cups of water and additional drippings. Do not forget that the pan has to fit into the oven. The roasting rack will keep the turkey off the pan and prevent the bottom to get mushy. Both are essential but also is the quality of the turkey. Go for organic, free-range or any turkey that has no hormones or antibiotics.
Preparation: Defrost, Clean and Flavor
If you want your star of the show to taste delicious, then you have to treat it well. If you have a frozen turkey, let the bird defrost for several days in the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is for every pound there should be approximately five hours of defrosting. About an hour before roasting, take the turkey out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature.
Once the hour has passed, remove any packaging and the bag of giblets and wash out the turkey with water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and then season it as you wish. Brining a turkey, where the bird is immersed in a salt water solution for a day before cooking, is one way to season the meat. A simple yet flavorful way to prepare the turkey is to lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon and take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey. Then rub some olive oil or butter on the outside and sprinkle salt and pepper all over the skin.
Cooking the stuffing in the turkey adds to the cooking time and prevents the turkey from cooking evenly. For extra flavor, instead of stuffing put inside the turkey some chopped yellow onion and apples, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. Close up the turkey cavity with either string or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey’s legs are tied together and the wings are tied in close.
Roasting the Bird
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add about a half-inch of water or stock to the roasting pan. This will keep the oven “moist” and the turkey juicy. Place the turkey breast down on the roasting rack. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin of the breast will not brown quickly and all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast, keeping the turkey breast succulent. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and place it into the oven. After about 25 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F for a further three hours. For every pound, the turkey should be roasted for 13 minutes.
Leave the turkey alone and let it do it’s magic. Every time the oven door is opened the temperature loses at least 25 degrees of heat. Instead of basting the turkey every 20 minutes the turkey can baste itself. Before the turkey is put in the oven, gently separate the turkey skin from the breast and distribute evenly homemade herb butter under the skin. This will keep the bird moist as it cooks.
About 1 hour from finishing, remove the foil, flip the bird over, and allow the skin to get golden brown. The turkey should be roasted until an instant-read thermometer registers 175°F for the dark meat and 165°F for the white meat. Another way to check if the meat is fully cooked is to cut into the center of the thigh and the juices run clear and not pink.
Put that Carving Knife Away
The turkey comes out of the oven with a perfect shade of golden brown. Your mouth is watering and you just want to cut into the most delicious and juicy turkey you’ve ever had, but put that carving knife away. Instead of cutting into the turkey the second you remove it from the oven, cover it loosely with foil, pour yourself a glass of wine and let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes. Letting it rest not only gives you time to finish the gravy and the rest of the meal, but it also allows the juices in the turkey to redistribute. Then once you do cut it, the juice in the turkey will stay in the turkey instead of leaking onto your plate. A covered 20 pound turkey will stay hot for a minimum of 40 minutes, therefore the turkey will not get cold.
Enjoy and Give Thanks
Once you found a plate for every side dish, the family have stopped arguing over which seat they want at the dinner table and the turkey has rested, now is the time that you have been anxiously waiting for. It is time to carve the turkey. As the guests ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, carve the turkey the same way you would carve a chicken. Remove the wings first, then the thighs, then the breast meat. Enjoy the succulent turkey with your loved ones and give yourself a pat on the back.
Author: Marlene Baldeweg-Rau
For a buffet of thanksgiving turkey tips from owner Sean Murphy, visit the web-sites for Beach Bistro and Eat Here.
He can be contacted or harassed at email@example.com