Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Star of the Show.... The Turkey!

Hopefully by this point, you have your turkey defrosting in the refrigerator, or you purchased a fresh turkey, 

What would Thanksgiving be without turkey!?  Not that home-cooked meal you have such fond memories of.  In my opinion, Thanksgiving is the one holiday I don't my food messed with.  I want it to taste just like my mom and dad always made.  I was thinking of stepping outside the box and making a rub with orange peel and such, but in the end, I decided to go with my dad's trusty recipe that always turns out amazing.  

I always bring my turkey to room temperature before I do anything to it.  I just stick mine in the sink, still wrapped in the packaging it came in, for about an hour.  Then preheat your over to 325 degrees.  Open up the turkey packaging and make sure you remove the neck and the other innards from the cavities from the turkey (this year I had a neck in the front and the giblets in the back, so make sure you check both!)  Rinse your turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.

Now maybe you are fancier then me and have one of those pans with a roasting rack in it, then bring that bad boy out!  If you are like me, and do not own a a special turkey pan, then you can use a big roasting pan with deep sides, or even one of those disposable turkey pans that are all over the grocery stores this time of year, and I create my own "rack" on the bottom of the pan with pieces of carrots and celery.  All you are really trying to do is get the turkey off the bottom of the pan.

Now the only thing worse then a dry turkey is a turkey with no flavor.  This is what I use to flavor my turkey.  I make an herb butter with poultry seasoning, sage, and thyme.  Just let your butter come to room temp and mix in some herbs and set aside for a bit..  you could do this the day before and cover with plastic wrap and let it hang out on your counter til the next day.  I also stuff the cavity with more celery and carrots and also lemon halves.
 Place your rinsed and dry turkey on your rack in the pan, or your makeshift rack.

Now season your turkey inside and out with salt and pepper before spreading the herb butter all over it.
 Stuff the cavity with your celery, carrots and lemons, and then smear the herb butter all over the outside of the turkey.

Its best if you can use yout hands and seperate the skin from the meat a bit and get the herb butter under the skin. This will keep the turkey more moist and give it more flavor. Expect messy hands, cause I used both to make sure my turkey was cover on every inch of the outside of this 14lbs body.

 I put a little bit of turkey stock in the bottom of my roasting pan, just to give something to start basting with before the turkey starts give off its own juices.  If you can't find turkey stock in your store, chicken stock is just fine too.

Place your turkey in your 325 degree preheated over and ignore it for about 45 minutes.  Then baste it with the juices on the bottom of the pan.  Repeat basting about every 20-30 minutes. 
 A lot of people will at this point, cover their turkey with aluminum foil so it doesn't brown too much, but I don't, this isn't brown enough for me.  I would if I though it was getting too brown, but I haven't the past two years, so do what looks right to you.

My 14lbs turkey took about 4 hours to cook, the pop up timer DID work, but I suggest getting a meat thermometer and a cooked turkey will ready about 160 degrees in the meatiest part of the breast, remember while it rests while you finish up the rest of your meal, it will continue to cook a bit.

When you get that 160 degree reading, pull your turkey to a cutting board and cover it with foil while you finish up your meal.

 Finished product results in a golden brown, super juicy, traditionally tasting bird!

Please forgive these awful photographs, its REALLY hard to take pictures while you are trying to make 6 dishes at once for Thanksgiving!

- Jess xoxo

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