If that title sounds daunting, FEAR NOT! I assure you, roasting a turkey is one of the easiest things that you will do. It’s a time consuming process, but that’s about all- especially, if you prepare it like this.
First things first though, you have to get your bird! I love this time of year… Here it is, the first week of November, and Turkey is already $.59 cents a pound. I just picked up a 13 pound bird for under $6. That, to me, is awesome… and a whole lot of meals.
Once you pick out your pretty girl, you need to thaw her out. Think of it as your “pre-prep” prep. All you need to do is put it in the fridge- make sure you have plenty of space and enough time for it to completely thaw out. My 13 pound bird will most likely take 2 to 3 days in the fridge. The bigger the bird, the more time to thaw. Check the back of the bird, it will give you a rough estimate of how long to let it thaw out. You can also thaw it in your sink in a bath of cold water- I do not recommend this. Not only does it monopolize your sink, but the chances of your husband dropping a half thawed turkey into said sink and splashing water all over your kitchen… very likely. (Or… maybe that’s just my curious husband. Either way…its best to just let it thaw in the fridge.)
Once she’s thawed, take out the bag of giblets (GROSS!) and throw them out! I know, I know… some people use them for the gravy but…I am not one of those people. Throw that nasty little bag of innards out, shudder, and wash your hands of that hot mess. Yuck. Then, wash your bird- inside and out.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… Can roasting a turkey really be that easy?? The answer- YES. Not so long ago, I use to watch my mother baste that darn turkey about every 20 minutes or so… standing over the hot oven, and in the kitchen all day. And while her turkey was always amazing, I often thought it seemed like a hell of a lot of work. And then, I grew up… and I learned my own easy way. (Sorry mom!) Here’s the trick to a moist, crispy, golden skinned turkey… without hassle and opening up your oven more than once (maybe twice if you get curious).
Yep- butter. Take a stick of softened butter (or semi melted- I won’t tell if you happened to nuke it too long) and add in some herbs/seasoning. I, myself, always use Mrs. Dash original.. a few teaspoons will do ya. Your butter will have this lovely smell and color medley throughout it with Mrs. Dash. Then, all you do is take 1/3 of that butter, and shove it under the skin of your turkey- This keeps her moist! Then, take the other 2/3 of spread it thick all over the outside of the turkey- This keeps her golden and crispy skinned!
Once your lovely lady is all buttered up, throw 1 onion (halved), and several whole celery stalks inside the cavity of your turkey. This will add additional moisture and the flavor of a stuffed bird, without the hassle and potential health risk of stuffing it with actual stuffing. (Don’t worry- there will be stuffing… we’ll get to that later)
Pop her in the oven at 325 degrees. Most turkeys have that “pop up” thermometer to tell you it’s done…. don’t trust it. By the time it pops- your turkey is too far done, and will continue to cook once you take it out. Also, a lot of people will say to go with 350. Don’t- it’s too hot for your pretty lady and she’ll dry out. Go 325 and cook it for about 18 minutes per pound. (If you look at your turkey it will probably tell you a rough estimate for poundage at 350 degrees. DON’T DO IT. You will have an overcooked bird. 325 degrees- 18 minutes per pound. You want a perfect turkey- cook her low and slow.
The other trick- don’t check on her. This part is always the most difficult for me, because I want to make sure that she is gorgeous. If you must (and I usually do!) check on her about half way through your cook time. IF at that time, the outside seems like it needs a little oomph… just dump a little chicken stock over the top.
When you get close to your “done time”, pop your own meat thermometer in the bird. If the temperature is at 165- go ahead and take her out- she’s done, and will continue to cook for a bit longer while she rests. Give the bird about 20 minutes to rest before you slice it- this gives time for the juices and flavor to distribute throughout the bird as it takes a few final minutes to finish the cook process.
That’s really all it takes. Save your pan drippings- you’ll need them to make that gravy! We’ll get to gravy and stuffing tomorrow…
Until next time… Happy Eating,