Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE Best Turkey Recipe

Nearly a decade ago, I invited B (that stands for Bench) and two other friends over to my tiny basement apartment on the Hill in DC for Thanksgiving.  I cooked the entire meal in the teeniest tiniest kitchen you have ever seen and yet insisted on making two kinds of potatoes.  One just wasn't enough!  And if you ask B (that stands for Bench), it was the world's best turkey.

What started out that day as a Martha Stewart recipe has over the years sort of morphed into my own recipe.  Mostly because I've since lost the original and just wing it at this point.  {Y'all know good and well by now that I wing most things in life, for better or worse.}  Her recipe involved roasted garlic.  I'm far too lazy for that these days and feel that if it's going to be on a bird roasting for four hours, what's the point of pre-roasting it.  Her recipe involved a long list of herbs.  My recipe involves whatever herbs I happen to have in the kitchen at any given time.  Her recipe involved specific measurements.  My recipe abhors the idea of having to wash extra dishes when I can just guesstimate stuff.  Her recipe was consistent every single time.  My recipe has, shall we say, plenty of wiggle room.

Because I go to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving each year, I don't cook my own bird on Thanksgiving proper.  And yes, of course I come home with a plate for the next day to enjoy.  But I really want more than that.  I LOVE leftover turkey.  I love it in sandwiches and soups and casseroles and stews and enchiladas and burritos and pot pie and so on.  So every year, I cook my own bird at some point.  I eat it like normal for a day or two and then pick the bird clean to freeze bags with meat for later use.  It's awesome to have on hand in the freezer for quick meals during the year.

Last night was my bird night.  I cooked it {all 21 lbs}, ate dinner, then picked it clean to freeze.  Yup...all that work to eat one dinner.  I'm crazy!  But it will be so worth it later when I don't feel like making a big fuss at dinner time.

So in light of Thanksgiving in a few days, I think it's high time I share my recipe for THE Best Turkey EVER.  Which is really a combination of a recipe and a tip.

First the tip...

Cook your bird breast side down.  I'll repeat...cook your bird BREAST SIDE DOWN.  Now this only works if you don't need to make a fussy presentation with your bird because your bird won't look as pretty.  But I'm telling you, this is life-changing advice.  Truly!  Your white meat will be so moist and juicy and taste just as amazing as the dark meat if you cook it breast side down.  It won't dry out because the juices from the dark meat will run down through the white meat.

Now the recipe for THE Best Roasted Turkey

* A big turkey
* 2 sticks of butter at room temperature (most of it cook off)
* 2 tbls Kosher salt
* 1 tbls cracked black pepper
* 2 tbls fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
* 2 tbls fresh sage, roughly chopped
* 3 tbls minced garlic
* 2 onions, in large chunks

I know it seems like a lot but it most of it cooks off.

A simple but brilliant recipe!

* Deep clean your kitchen sink.
* Wash your bird in your super clean sink.  Remove neck, gizzards, etc.  I also cut off a lot of skin/fat, but that's a personal preference.
* Move bird to your roasting rack.  Pat dry with paper towels, including the inside.  Let rest at room temp for 20 minutes to get dry.
* Preheat your oven to 325.
* Combine room temperature butter, salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic in a bowl.
* Chop onions.
* Starting with the breast side up, generously rub both under and over the skin of the bird with the butter herb mixture.  Rub the inside of the cavity, too.
* Flip your bird over so the breast side is now down.  Rub the remaining butter herb mixture over and under the skin, touching every surface possible.  {This is why the bird needs to be dry}
* Put onion in bird cavity.  If some pieces fall out, that's totally fine.
* Make a foil tent large enough to cover the bird and pan.  Wrap foil tent around pan, place in the oven, and don't touch that bird for hours!
* I've learned NOT to baste my bird.  As long as you have a tent on the pan, you are really good to go.  Basting means that the oven temp lowers each time you open the door, thus taking longer to cook and drying out your meat.
* Cook for about 15 mins/lb or until an internal thermometer reads 190 degrees at the thickest section.  If your bird is breast side down, the little pop thingy won't work as it will now be upside down.
* If you want to roast root veggies (my favorite), chop them into large chunks and toss them in for the last hour of cooking.
* To brown your bird and crisp the skin, remove the foil tent for the last half hour or so of cooking.
* Let bird rest at least 20 minutes before carving.  This allows the meat to relax and the juices to settle back in place.

Start breast up

But cook breast down.  Also note the missing skin. I know it looks terrible but it's just how I roll.

Covered in buttery goodness.  Get it good and coated both over and under the skin.

Please let me know if you try these tips or if you have others to share with us.  I really just cannot say enough about how amazing your bird will taste with this recipe though.  Truly...it's THE Best!


Twingle Mommy said...

I've heard that cooking the turkey breast side down makes it really juicy. I'm going to try it this year. I also make a turkey just for the leftovers. I usually make it in the Spring but I buy it this time of year when they're cheap.

AEOT said...

We won't be home on Thanksgiving but are making our own Turkey on Friday!! I'm going to try this recipe, so thanks!!

Alex said...

Thanks for sharing this, I will definitely be book marking this for the future!


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