Holiday Turkey Recipes
1. Alton Brown’s recipe. This is delicious, moist and quick to roast. You can use the general principles even if you don’t have all the ingredients. There is even a video at this LINK.
2. Please plan ahead for this one that Martie often uses. This recipe is quite quick to prepare but has a very, very long cooking time. Except for checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, once you have put the turkey in the oven, you are finished working until it’s time to carve. No basting!
If you want stuffing, bake that separately, not inside the turkey. This recipe is a low temperature/slow method not suitable for stuffing.
Thawed turkey (note guidelines below*)
1 onion (the bigger the turkey, the bigger the onion), quartered
1 or more peeled garlic glove, halved (optional)
2 stalks celery, chopped in big chunks
1 orange, quartered but not peeled
MacNut™ Oil is ideal but it is hard to find good macadamia oil, so almond oil or avocado oil can work. (I don’t like cooking olive oil this long…it is fragile.)
Remove packets of goodies from both ends of the turkey. (If desired, place neck and giblets in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer thoroughly to make broth for gravy.) Rinse turkey and pat dry with a paper towel. Divide the onion, garlic, celery and orange into two piles and stuff both ends of the turkey. Seal the skin flaps with skewer or string.
Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan so the meat will not be stewing in juices. Unless it is important to have a beautiful Norman Rockwell turkey to show off, I strongly recommend roasting the bird with the breast side down so that the juices continually baste the white meat and keep it moist.
Rub the entire outside of the bird with the oil you chose. Insert a meat thermometer (aimed so you can see the face through the oven window). To keep the back bone from getting overdone ahead of the rest of the turkey, drop a small aluminum tent very loosely on the top.
Now, here is the nifty part. Start with an oven preheated to 350°, but when you put the turkey in, immediately reduce the temperature to 200°. Yes, 200° for 1 hour per pound of turkey. If your oven runs hot, it may be better at 50 minutes per pound, so watch the meat thermometer and when it reaches 165 degrees, reduce the oven temperature to “Warm” until it is time to eat. [Note, older thermometers and recipes show a poultry setting of 180 degrees but that is no longer deemed necessary and dries out the bird.] You will see the skin begin to pull back on the legs.
The turkey will be remarkably moist and tender even though the skin will be brown and crispy.
Starting with a “brined” turkey is an option that works well. (Brining is done by marinating the turkey in salt water and in seasonings if using the Alton Brown recipe), for 12 hours or more before starting the above recipe. The turkey has to be kept refrigerator cold during the marinating process. Kosher salt is used and the instructions may be on the box.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.
*THAWING the bird: I’m sure you know to never thaw a turkey at room temperature because it can develop harmful levels of bacteria. These are the official USDA instructions. The conventional wisdom (also according to Butterball who we assume should know) is that refrigerator thawing is best. Do it breast side up, in unopened wrapper, on a tray in the refrigerator, allowing at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. So, 3 days for a 12 pounder. Fine, but oops, for my sometimes 20 pound turkey, that’s 5 days. Not going to happen. The alternative cold water thaw is done by having the bird in the unopened wrapper, breast side down, in enough cold water to cover it completely and to change the water frequently to keep the turkey chilled. This would take about 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey. So, in my case, that’s 10 hours, which I can manage. However, I’ve tried this in the sink, but that’s not enough water for a large bird and the bath tub is too much water. I dreamed up what I thought was an original Heloise-worthy idea (until I Googled it). Forget all that, here is a link to instructions for THAWING a turkey in an Igloo insulated container and BRINING it at the same time. I have my cooler outside on the patio if the weather is cool. I put a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler to monitor the temperature. It is important to cook the turkey right away after thawing this way—e.g. don’t put it back in the refrigerator.