With Thanksgiving just a blink away, everyone is talking about how to make the best turkey. This makes me laugh a little because for me, I think the turkey is the absolute easiest part of the whole day. Does it take the longest, yes, but there is really nothing to be scared about when it comes to cooking this bird. Here are a few tips, and the exact way that I cook turkey and chicken at home almost every time I make them.
- Get the right size – Pick a turkey that is the right size for the group that you will be having. There is no reason to have a 25 lb turkey if you are having 5 people over for dinner. A good rule is to figure about 1.5 – 2 lbs per person. So for a dinner party of 10 people,you would want about a 20 lb bird or two 10 lb ones.
- To stuff or not to stuff – Honestly, I never stuff my turkey with bread stuffing. It just makes it take too freaking long to cook, almost an hour longer than normal. However, I do always throw in some quartered apples, onions, and carrots into the cavity. It adds flavor to the meat and helps keep things moist.
- To brine or not to brine – Ok, so here’s my feeling on brining. If you have the space in your refrigerator to leave a brined turkey in there for 1 – 2 days, then go for it. I however have too much other stuff in there to allow for this. Brining does make for a great turkey, however, you can get a really great bird without it too.
- Don’t overcook – A dry turkey is the worst. However, remember it’s not the end of the world if yours ends up a little on the saw dust side. There is always gravy! Here is a great little chart from Real Simple magazine that shows the breakdown per pound.
Perfect Roasted Turkey (or Chicken)
This recipe is for a 14 – 16 lb. bird, if you have a much larger turkey just up the ingredients.
14 – 16 lb. Turkey (whole bird, or just the bone-in breast)
1 medium apple, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
1 large carrot, quartered
1 stick of butter, room temperature
salt, pepper, granulated garlic, dried herbs
Unwrap and rinse off the turkey and remove the giblets and neck. Transfer it to a large roasting pan, tuck the wings underneath the back, and pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Use your finger tips to separate the skin gently from the meat as far back as you can get down the body. Stuff the cavity with the onion, apple and carrot, just shove them in and get them to fit as best you can.
In a bowl incorporate the butter and salt, pepper, garlic, and whatever herbs you like. I like to use parsley, sage, and thyme. You can also add lemon rind or fresh herbs if you would like, but this is one place where I really think dried works just fine. Be generous with the salt, when you think you have added enough, add more.
Now the messy part begins. Grab little handfuls of the butter mix and push it under the skin spreading it onto the meat of the breast. Smooth it out as much as you can, then also slather some on top of the skin and over the legs.
That’s it. I promise, it will be awesome.
Bake it off in the oven at 325 for about 3.5 – 4 hours or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
NOW…the next thing is the most important part. LET THE BIRD REST. When it’s done, pull it out of the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. The juices will redistribute into the meat and will not end up all over your cutting board.
Carve it up and enjoy with all 500 of your side dishes!
For those of you who might not be the best carvers as well, here’s a great little video on just how to do that from the always awesome Alton Brown.