Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey


[infobox subtitle=”Y’all” bg=”purple” color=”white” opacity=”off” space=”30″ link=”no link”]GOBBLE GOBBLE[/infobox] Another Thursday, another Thanksgiving recipe.  Last week was Sage Stuffing (omg yum).  Today we’re tackling the big bird himself – the TURKEY.  Cooking the turkey to perfection is actually a lot easier than you think and shouldn’t take longer than 3 to 3.5 hours.  Yea, seriously.  Also, a DISCLAIMER about the video – my previous company Revelry House is no longer in business (wah) so ignore the R.H. bits in the video. I decided to share the video anyway with you guys because having a visual reference with an intimidating recipe can be very helpful, I.M.O.  My recipe for the turkey is posted just below instead for your cooking pleasure.

This turkey combines 3 techniques for a foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey.  First, I like to dry brine my turkey for 2 days before cooking him on Thanksgiving with kosher salt.  You can dry brine a frozen turkey but start to thaw that sucker out 2-3 days before minimally because it takes FOREVER.  The dry brine helps to trap moisture in and creates a really nice flavor.  Second, I cook the turkey at 500 F for 30 minutes at the top using canola oil on the bird to create a beautiful brown skin and to create a moisture seal around the meat. Finally, when you lower the heat, adding some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan helps add additional moisture to the turkey as the liquid steams.

Watch the video, but make sure to read the recipe carefully as I’ve made a couple of additions/adjustments since attending culinary school last year.  You can use butter instead of duck fat – totally your preference! Gravy recipe is next week!

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Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey

[tabgroup layout=”horizontal”] [tab title=”Ingredients”]1. 1 raw turkey (can be frozen, but you must start thawing it 2-3 days before Thanksgiving)

2. A ton of kosher salt

3. A ton of butter or duck fat

4. Black pepper

5. Canola Oil

6. Cinnamon Stick

7. 1 Apple, halved

8. 1 Onion, halved

9. Fresh Rosemary, thyme, sage

10. Your best beer

11. Your best white wine

12. A very large plastic bag

13. Large roasting pan

14. Thermometer

15. Twine[/tab] [tab title=”Procedure”]1. Dry brine your turkey 2 days before Thanksgiving while allowing him to thaw out in the fridge.  Wash the turkey, removing the neck and organs (but save them for gravy), and dry the bird very well.  Next, turn your huge-ass plastic bag (must be air-tight once closed) inside out and set aside.  So as not to cross-contaminate your salt, put the salt you’ll be using for the brine in a bowl separate from the salt you always use.  Rub kosher salt all over the outside of the turkey and also underneath the skin on the breast.  Be very gentle when peeling the skin away from the breast meat as you don’t want it to tear.

2. Wash your hands and grab the inside-out bag, wrapping it around the turkey so once the bird is in the bag, it’s right-side out again.  Tie the sucker shut (tight) and place the turkey breast side up in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

3. On Thanksgiving preheat your oven to 500 F.  Take your turkey out of his bag and rinse all the salt off of him.  Dry him very, very, very well again and set aside.

4. In a microwave-safe container (I just use a piece of tupperware), microwave your halved onion and apple along with your cinnamon stick together with some water for about 3 minutes until soft.

5. Prepare to season the bird, butter and oil him up, and fill the cavity – aka have your butter and oil ready to go along with salt and pepper in specific bowls (so you don’t cross contaminate), and your onion, apple, cinny stick, and all your herbs.  Make sure your roasting pan is out and ready to go and your twine is on-hand to truss.

6. Salt and pepper the turkey very generously (but be prepared to move fast after this with your butter as the salt brings out moisture which repels the fat from sticking) outside and inside the cavity as well.  Like at least 3 handfuls of salt.  Seriously.  Massage the salt and pepper into the turkey.

7. Butter the entire turkey, massaging into the breast as best as you can without breaking the skin.  Insert onion, apple, cinnamon stick, and a bunch of fresh herbs into the cavity.  If you’re making my Sage Stuffing Recipe def use some sage!

8. Tie the legs together using twine.  Watch this video on how to truss a turkey.

9. Create a shield for the breast of your turkey using aluminum foil (this is Alton Brown’s genius idea) and set aside.

10. Drizzle canola oil all over the outside of the bird so he is completely oiled up.  Leave no part oil-free.  Place your turkey breast side up in your roasting dish and into a 500 F oven for 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and allow the bird to finish cooking for another 2 to 3 hours (depending on the size).  Add some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan.

12. I wouldn’t recommend using the pop-out thermometer (generally included in most turkeys these days) to indicate total done-ness of the turkey.  If the pop-out thermometer is in the breast and it pops out, the breast meat is done but the legs will definitely NOT be (they always take longer, just like on a chicken).  If you’re super brave you can remove the turkey from the oven at this time and remove the legs from the rest of the body and put them back in the oven to continue cooking without over-doing the breast.  If you choose to do this, simply set the breast and carcass aside on a cooling rack (over a cookie) sheet and let rest.  Your thermometer should be in the deepest part of the thigh without touching bone, and should reach 160 before you determine your legs are done.  160 is basically the magic number.  Hit it and pull your bird out.  Go to 170/175 like the Health Department recommends and you’re going to have a dry turkey.

12. Allow your turkey to rest for 20 minutes minimally no matter what.  If you’ve removed the legs or chosen to keep them on, still let all the parts rest to allow the moisture to be sucked back in.  Simply pop the bird back into the oven momentarily before serving to heat him right back up.

13. SAVE THE BROWN BITS from your pan for gravy.  That recipe comes next week![/tab] [tab title=”Notes”]Time: 30 minutes to prepare the dry brine, about 4.5 hours start to finish for preparing and cooking the turkey

Level: Medium

Serves: Depends on how big your turkey is![/tab] [/tabgroup]

    1. whatever you’re planning on drinking at dinner is what you should use – a high quality beer and wine. We’ll probably go with Stella Artois and a nice Sancerre.

  1. Hi Lo, I am wondering when you are going to use the aluminum shield you’ve made? You’ve made it, put it aside and we never saw it again.. just wondering what it’s for and when you use it!

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