Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Want succulent, juicy turkey that is fool proof? Today I will share my recipe for Thanksgiving day turkey. It is a combination of techniques that has been tried and true to deliver the best turkey flavor of any that I’ve encountered in my career. Brined, Injected, Stuffed, Seasoned and Basted to perfection. Don’t be scared, if you make the necessary preperation ahead of time, you will not be serving a scarey turkey, instead you will be serving a masterpiece! One step at a time, come on, I will hold your hand and we can conquer the turkey together!
I start by placing the turkey in a brine for 24 hours before seasoning and stuffing (which can be done the day before cooking), so brining can be done 2 days prior to Thanksgiving. The brine tenderizes the meat, an important place to begin. After removing from the brine, I use an injector filled with ghee or clarified butter and seasoning. Adding fat to the meat is the only way to add moisture. Then stuff the inside of the turkey with fruit and herbs. This provides the wonderful aromatics that bring the flavor to another level of grandeur! Last I stuff the skin, making several little holes and pushing garlic cloves and cold clarified butter in all around. Followed by seasoning the entire bird. I roast it with chicken stock at the bottom of the roasting pan, and baste it periodically throughout the cook time.You want the skin to brown and get crispy, but you can feel confident that the meat is going to be moist (if not over cooked–use a calibrated thermometer!) even if the outside looks well-done.
It sounds like a lot to do, but it is so worth it, you will be happy that you did!
12-14lbs Whole Turkey, organic is best, at very least, no hormones If you have a smaller or a larger turkey, no problem, just use a little more or a little less of the ingredients. The process is what matters. Make sure you remove the organs and “stuff” and rinse the turkey clean.
1 cup Sea salt
1 cup Xylitol, birchwood, you could use cane sugar for this part is you aren’t highly sensitive, the finished product will have very, very little sugar left in it
1/4 cup Dry mustard
3 Tbls Black peppercorns
2 cups warm water
3 cups ice water (mostly ice)
3-5 gallon Bag, they sell bags specifically for this, or you can use another bag of your choice, a bag is good because it allows you to flip the turkey so the meat on each side is brined
1. The warm water should be warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar/xylitol. The easiest way to do this is to place the warm water in a pot with the salt, and sugar or xylitol until it dissolves. Remove and add the dry mustard and peppercorns.
2. Pour the warm water mixture into the bag, then add the ice water and mix.
3. Place the bag in the pan that will hold the turkey while brining. Add the turkey & tie closed on the leg end.
4. Place the pan in the refrigerator, make a effort to situate the bag so that the turkey has as much brine on it as possible.
5. After about 12 hours, flip the entire bag & turkey so that the other side of the turkey is submerged in brine liquid.
6. Remove from brine in about 24 hours total.
1 large Apple, I like Gala, but use your favorite kind, core & slice in large pieces, skin is fine, this will not be eaten
1 cup Cranberries, fresh, rinsed
1 large Peach, sliced big, core removed
1/4 cup Parsley, fresh, whole is fine
1 slice Orange, just one slice is perfect
1. Toss ingedients together in a bowl
2. Stuff as much as you can into the bird, it will cook down, so don’t be shy
Injection & Under-Skin mixture:
1 cup Ghee or Clarified Butter, melted
2 tsp Sea salt, fine ground
1 tsp Garlic, powder or granulated
6-8 cloves Garlic, fresh, whole cloves, peeled, this is only for pushing under the skin, so don’t mix these with the butter
1. Mix butter, salt & garlic spice together.
2. Pour half of mixture in a bowl or cup and place in the refrigerator. You will let this portion become solid, then break it into 6-8 pieces and stuff under the skin of the turkey, sooooo you want it to solidify about 1/2 an inch thick so it’s easy to break into chunks, and it doesn’t melt the minute you touch it
3. With the other half of the butter mixture, get out the injector and fill it up. The breast of the turkey tends to get dry the fastest because it has to cook longer since the dark meat takes longer to cook through than the white meat does. So inject the breast 2-3 times in each side of the breast, try to inject in the middle of the meat so the liquid stays in the meat. Then inject once in each of the other parts (wings, legs, thighs).
4. Now, the garlic cloves, poke a few small holes with the tip of your knife in the skin of the turkey, all around, 6-8 small holes (depending on the size of the turkey). Push one garlic clove into each hole, just under the skin, push to one side with your finger under the skin, preferably pushed to be on top of the meat instead of the bone
5. Get your cold butter mixture ready, use the same holes that the garlic went into, get that butter in hole
1/4 cup Sea salt, course ground is nice for this, but fine is good too
2 Tbls Black pepper, again course is best, but fine is good too
2 Tbls Garlic, granulated
1. Nice and simple! Mix the seasoning together and start, liberally, seasoning the thigh side of the turkey first (so you only have to flip it once while seasoning). **Tip: hold one hand on the side of the turkey below where you are seasoning the meat to catch any “loose” seasoning, then use the catch hand to press the “saved” seasoning onto the side that it was intended to land on. Let’s face it, evenly seasoning large round pieces of meat takes both hands.
2. Flip the turkey, breast side up and season all over ever bit of the turkey
3. Now you are either ready to cook or you can plastic wrap it and refrigerate for 24 hours or less.
1. Use a roasting pan with a rack so that the turkey has airflow to the bottom side. Pour 2-3 cups of chicken (or turkey) stock into the bottom of the pan.
2. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preheating is not the most important thing in the world, so if you don’t have time to preheat, just put it in
3. Baste the turkey with the juices/stock at the bottom of the pan 1-2 times per hour, during the last hour, baste 4-5 times.
4. Cook for a total of 3.5 to 4 hours (give or take based on how your oven works), I personally enjoy turkey that is not well-done, so I pull it out when the breast reaches 145 degrees. There is 10 degrees of carry over cooking so it will end up being around 155 degrees, you can be sure it is cooked through by checking to see if the juices running are clear in color, or slightly tan colored, just not pink. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes after removing from the oven.
EAT & HAPPY THANKSGIVING!