Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey is Easier Than You Think

I love turkey and I make it a few times throughout the year.  My turkey is always moist and delicious.  I've noted that a lot of people are intimidated by making turkey and it's really quite simple.  Don't be afraid to attempt to roast a turkey; if you can handle a roasted chicken, you can handle a roasted turkey.

Bloggy McBloggerstein's Brined Turkey

1. Defrost the turkey in the fridge. Usually takes around 4 or 5 days for a 14-pounder. Cut turkey out of the plastic and pull the neck and giblets out of the cavities (check both).

2. Brine the turkey for between 12 and 24 hours. My brine recipe is: 1 cup orange juice, 8 cups water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, some salt, pepper, and dried sage. Mix together and add turkey. Put the whole thing in an Igloo cooler and dump an ice-maker full of ice in the cooler. Flip bird over half-way through brining.

3. I use an electric roasting pan instead of using the oven because I don't like heating up the whole house and it seems to cook the turkey faster. Pull the turkey out of the brine (be sure to drain any brine out of the cavities, but there is no need to rinse the bird - besides, that means you'd have to sanitize your sink!) and place directly in electric roasting pan. Put 5 pats of butter on turkey - on both breasts, near the drumsticks, and in middle of back. You don't need a lot of butter because brining keeps the meat VERY moist.

4. I usually use the following seasonings: some salt and pepper, a little onion powder, a shake of granulated garlic, and a sprinkle of dried sage. Sometimes I use a tiny bit of dried rosemary. Sometimes I stuff the main cavity with a quartered peeled onion and a couple peeled cloves of garlic. Sometimes I stuff it with a quartered orange. You can play a lot with poultry seasonings. Of course, you can always stuff some prepared stuffing in the turkey too - but don't pack it tightly in the cavity.

5. Cover electric roaster and roast for 2 hours at 325 F. Then turn the heat up to 350 F for 45 mins to 1 1/2 hours. There is no need to babysit the bird or baste at all. Use a meat thermometer to tell when the turkey is done instead of watching the clock. The turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 165 F. I usually test four places in the turkey to ensure it is all cooked: each breast and near each drumstick. Be sure not to hit a bone with the thermometer or else you'll get a false reading.

6. Turn off the roaster and remove turkey to a cutting board and let the bird rest for about 30 minutes. When I'm really lazy I just leave the turkey in the roaster (lid off) and carve it in the appliance instead of dirtying up my giant cutting board (it's a heavy son of a gun!). The reason you want to let the bird rest is because it helps redistribute the juices throughout the meat. If you carve or cut into it right away, you lose much of the juice and get dry meat (this is true with any meat). The brining also helps keep the meat moist.

7. For carving, I usually cut off the wing tips first and then the drumsticks. It is easiest to cut at the joints. Then I begin carving the breast meat, cut the rest of the wings off, then the thighs. I'm not fond of skin and I always pull the skin off as I'm carving. I usually end up flipping the bird over a couple of times to make sure I've picked it clean. Then I use the carcass and skin and make turkey stock so I can make homemade turkey soup a few days later. In case you don't know what to do with the pan drippings, you can use it to make gravy (I have a recipe for that too) or to punch up the flavor of any boxed stove-top stuffing.

Follow this recipe and you'll have awesome turkey each time.  Enjoy!

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