By popular request, I was asked by several of you to put out a post on my favorite “Turkey Tips”. I personally love to make turkey all throughout the winter so if your freezer can handle it, stock up now while they are in mass supply – btw, that’s Tip #1.
Everyone has their own opinion on what makes the best turkey. Some people will say basting is the key, some will tell you that it must be placed in a brining solution overnight, other people say inject that baby with all the goodness. Here is what I have to say, as most of you have figured out by now, I love simplicity and try not to get caught up in anything that is crazy complex. Here is my tried and true go to method for roasting a turkey (be sure and read all the way through before tackling):
- Give the Turkey a Bath (inside and out)! I swear by this with turkey as well as chicken, duck and any other fowl that might come your way. I just hold under my sprayer and somersault the bird a few times. I pretend he is having some fun!
- Next, Towel Dry The Big Guy until he is coiffed and not a drop of water is on him.
- Size Him Up – Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set out a large roasting pan (be sure you check measurements to make sure he fits into the pan. You will feel really bad for him if he can’t squeeze his little self into that thing!
- Primping – Place the turkey out on an extra large cutting board and/or clean surface for prepping. I almost feel like I should be naming him by now as the bonding is just about to begin!
- Butter is your Friend when it comes to making turkey so be sure you have at least 1 full stick (please do not substitute with margarine or anything else). This technique requires just a wee bit of patience but once you learn it, you will be using this technique left and right with roasted chicken! Place the bird, breast side up and gently separate the skin from the breast using your fingers. If you have long nails, I would suggest rounding up some cavalry and asking for help; otherwise, your nails will poke right through the skin. Believe it or not, the skin is pretty darn delicate. I usually just slide my hand (palm down) gently around, spreading my fingers open and shut, under the skin to separate it. Repeat the process for the other breast.
- Getting Down to Business. Once you have the skin separated from the breast, take a hefty amount of room temperature butter in your hand (approx. 3-4 Tbsp.) and reach up under the skin and spread the butter all around coating every inch of the breast. Repeat with other breast. Wash hands thoroughly and continue on to next step. BTW, it is worth experimenting with different flavors of butter, you can add freshly chopped garlic to it or even some truffle salt if you are really in the mood to splurge – delicious!
- Aromatherapy – Load up on Fresh Lemons (5-6) and Bunches of Fresh Herbs – slice up 2-3 lemons in 1/4″ slices and then determine what your favorite types of herbs are. I personally love Fresh Thyme and Oregano on Turkey. It’s really up to you which herbs you use but please splurge and go for “Fresh Herbs” this time instead of dried. Now all you have to do is take the lemon slices and fresh herbs (no need to remove stems) and reach up under the skin again and place directly on breast, spreading out evenly. Repeat with breast. I know you are wondering how much of the Fresh Herbs to use but it is really up to you. I like to literally use a whole bunch for a big punch of flavor to envelope the chicken with but if that’s not for you then decrease and use about 1/2 cup/bunch worth.
- Don’t Panic, Almost There – Okay, please don’t panic with this next step as it does sound like a lot. Take 2 Tbsp. of Kosher Salt and 1 Tbsp. of Freshly Cracked Pepper, mix together and then sprinkle evenly all over and inside the Turkey.
- Spritzer Time – Slice remaining 2-4 lemons in half, squeeze all over turkey and then tuck inside the cavity. Please remember to canvas the inside of the cavity beforehand checking for and pulling out any giblets or other fun treasures you find!
- Into the Land of the Lost – Stuff a Whole Head of Garlic and One Vidalia Onion, chopped in quarters, into the cavity. If the cavity is getting full, no worries, keep on stuffing (think suitcase style – sitting on the top, stuffing in more than you can imagine just to get the zipper closed)!
- Slather Away – Now take 1/2 cup Olive Oil and give that turkey the best darn massage it’s ever had and break out into song (you can’t fool me, I know you sing too while caressing your bird!). Be sure and flip that bad boy on his back side too and slather him up! Sprinkle any of the fresh herbs you have on hand all over him than at the very least he won’t feel so exposed!
- Sunbathing Time – Place the turkey into the roasting pan and place uncovered in 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours (for a 14 lb. Turkey – otherwise check manufacturer’s label for timing instructions) When timer goes off and/or it begins to turn golden brown (see pic below so you know what a bronze goddess looks like – not me, the turkey (ha ha) !), loosely place tin foil over entire turkey. This prevents it from turning too brown. Set timer for another 1 1/2 hours and continue to roast. About 30 minutes before the timer goes off, check the temperature with a thermometer. You will want to remove the turkey when it reaches 160 degrees.
- Primping for Dinner – Remove turkey/roasting pan from oven and wrap tightly with tin foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes. This step is important. This will lock in all the juices and flavor. Remove tin foil and then proceed to discard lemon slices and stems of herbs from the top of the breast (they easily slide out). Using a sharp knife, carve turkey and serve alongside with more fresh herbs as garnish. Btw, the pan juices are delicious if you want to put that over the sliced turkey! Also it’s great to use with any leftovers.
- Hope you have enjoyed this turkey tutorial! I know I had a good laugh writing it!
Remember as you approach Thanksgiving time, it’s all about gratitude and being thankful. Be thankful for everything imaginable from not burning the turkey to a yummy feast ahead to another day on this planet. And, if disaster does set in and you forget the mashed potatoes or burn something, remember to just laugh…it’s only food after all.
circa a few years back…when the whole clan came out for a “Thanksmas” visit.