Y’all should know by now, food is basically my love language. Well, good food that is. I love to cook, and Thanksgiving is definitely in my top two favorite holidays (I can’t quite rank Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’re pretty equal in my book). I have quite a handful of dishes and recipes that I really enjoy – but on this post I will be sharing the quintissential dish that every Thanksgiving needs:
A turkey is a key dish in most Thanksgiving meals. Some people do ham, or lamb, or something like that. But in my house – its always a moist and delicious turkey. One of the main keys to a moist bird – BASTE. BASTE. BASTE. You can’t do it enough! Another one: aromatics. Fresh herbs, onions, apples, celery.. your turkey is going to absorb the flavors of whatever you put both inside it, and underneath. Now, here is my easy peesy tried and true way to a kick booty turkey that will satisfy all the people at your table.
I start with an organic and cage-free turkey, and regardless if I am just feeding my husband and I, or 20 people – I always get at least a 11 lb. turkey. For exactly one reason: leftovers.
For the bird:
Butter (I use Miyokos Vegan Butter, but any is fine) – at least one stick
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Sage
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
Broth (Turkey, Vegetable or Chicken will all do fine)
Fresh Rosemary, and Thyme
Roughly chopped apples, onion and celery
Now, first things first, make sure your turkey is fully thawed (if frozen, I make sure its in the fridge for at least 3 days to defrost fully). The shortest amount of time I have cooked an 11 lb bird, 3.5 hours at 350F – I was so impressed that it turned out just as moist as a bird I had cooked low and slow for 8-10 hours. Again, basting is ESSENTIAL. I almost always try to plan ahead and cook it low and slow.
Start by thoroughly rinsing your turkey, and I mean thoroughly. Remove the giblets and rinse the outside and inside, then pat dry the whole thing with paper towels. Next take your butter, and chop up some rosemary and thyme, using a fork – mix the herbs into your butter, season your butter with salt and pepper. Start massaging your herb butter ALL over the bird, and under the skin, * I use a glove for this. Make sure to be delicate when putting butter under the skin, you don’t want to pierce the skin – as that is what keeps all the moisture inside of the meat. Once you have worked all of the butter in, drizzle EVOO over the whole bird (you can’t use too much), vigorously season with salt, pepper, paprika and more rosemary and thyme over the entire outer portion of the bird.
Now, I usually make stuffing inside of the bird – but for the sake of simplicity, I will add that to the bottom of this post.
If you are NOT making stuffing inside the bird, simply do a rough chop on your apples, onions and celery, put about 1/3 of each inside the bird, and put the rest in the bottom of our roasting pan (under the rack that your turkey will sit on). Do the same thing with fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage. Pour roughly 2 cups of your broth (or stock) into the basin of your roasting pan, and any leftover butter that you have. Put the rack inside of your roaster, and breast side up – carefully lay your turkey on the rack. *It is recommended that you tie your turkey legs, but it is not necessary. Next, take two large pieces of aluminum foil, and creating a tent over your turkey. You don’t want the foil to touch the top of the turkey, and you want to be able to open it up enough for basting.
Set oven to 225F and cook turkey for designated time. At 222F – it is generally 30 mins/pound, but always allow time for an extra 30 mins if needed. I trust my cooking, usually by looks and smell – but I ALWAYS double check with a meat thermometer. It should reach 165F at the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
Don’t forget BASTE, BASTE, BASTE. I make sure to baste my turkey at least every 30 mins. Use the juices/liquid at the basin of our roasting pan and baste every portion of the bird: the top, the legs, in the crevices you can reach as often as possible, but try not to keep the oven open for too long at one time. Basting will ensure that your turkey is both moist, and that you get a nice crispy skin.
NOTE: your turkey and roasting pan will be heavy. So be careful when basting and removing from oven.