It's my favorite holiday!! You know...That one that falls between Halloween and Christmas that Hobby Lobby just skips right over. I'm so enamored with Thanksgiving that I refuse to play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. There are a few reasons I love it SOOOO much:
1.) It's a time to celebrate family and friends
2.) It's not about gifts
3.) I get to eat myself into a food coma
4.) Most importantly - I get to feed people one of their very favorite meals, one they wait for ALL YEAR!
In my career, Thanksgiving was one of our most important seasons. So I have spent countless hours researching and testing the best ways to make all of your favorite foods. This month we'll be sharing those recipes, tips and techniques to share with your family and friends. This week, we're talking TURKEY!!
Let's talk turkey!
I think we all know that turkey isn't the most delicious of meat options, but it is quintessentially Thanksgiving. However, it can be the delicious centerpiece that we all hope it to be, with a few tricks and techniques.
I get a lot of questions about how I make my turkey - so many that last year I taught a turkey class. So here is my method. I'm not saying it's good...but I have been invited to TWO Thanksgiving dinners where the hosts have asked me to bring the turkey (true story!). It does take a little extra time, but it's totally worth it.
1.) Brine. Does it make a difference? Yes, it does. But in testing different brine recipes we ended up with overly salty pan drippings that were useless for gravy (gasp!). Even after rinsing. My Perfect Turkey recipe includes a brine that is part sugar and salt, to reduce the salt level and includes spices, herbs and veggies to both flavor your turkey and make a great gravy starter. It was inspired by and Alice Waters recipes, so you know it's pretty great. Tip: if you can't fit it in your fridge and it's cold enough outside, put it in a cooler with ice and place it in your garage overnight.
2.) Get under that skin! Use your hand to loosen the skin and get under it with butter and herbs. Make sure to really massage the whole turkey with that butter mixture. Loosening the skin will allow air to get under it and make it nice and crispy. The butter will also help add fat to the lean turkey breast and keep it moist. Tip: Let your turkey air dry in the refrigerator uncovered for extra crispy skin.
3.) Inject. Everybody wants to argue over this one, but I've tested it all ways and this is my favorite. Yes, I brine AND inject. Because I can!! My Perfect Turkey recipe includes a homemade recipe for a Cajun injection which was the tested favorite. If you do inject, make your own. The store bought versions are full of preservatives and salt. Place the injector halfway into the area you want to inject and push the plunger. The meat will swell and then be flavored throughout with the flavor. It adds a little extra fat (again) to that lean turkey and adds flavor to those ever important pan drippings. Tip: Make sure not to go all the way through the meat or your injection will just end up in a puddle.
4.) Stuff the cavity. With fruit and herbs, not dressing. I like to add apples, oranges and any herbs that I have leftover. It retains moisture, add sweetness and there is no contamination threat since you won't be eating the fruit and herbs. Tip: You'll need less than you think. One apple and one orange will easily fill a cavity.
5.) Roast. Yes, I roast. And one of my big tips is to invest in an electric turkey roaster. They cook faster and save your oven space for sides, rolls and keeping food warm. For and investment of $20-$50 you get your whole oven back. I was resistant for many years, but if all of the above steps are followed there is enough fat to keep your turkey moist. And I usually get ask if I fried my turkey. I didn't, but the electric roaster makes it seem like you did. If you're willing to spend a little extra, this Convection Roaster is my favorite and tested with the best results (and her WI accent makes me feel like I'm home!):
6.) Altitude. My favorite. Did you know that it may take you 5-10 extra minutes per pound for your turkey? It might. So keep that in mind when you are allowing time for your meal. Don't go by those pop up timers that come in the turkey, invest in a small probe thermometer for a minimal cost and know when you are at that just right temp. Also keep in mind you'll loose anywhere from 50 to 100 degrees in your oven if you leave the door open too long to temp. So be speedy!
7.) Let it rest for at least 10 minutes. That will allow the juices to stay in the meat. If you try to cut right into your turkey all of the juices will leak out and all of your above efforts will have been in vain.
8.) RELAX! It's over. Enjoy your day and your turkey, but most of all enjoy your family!
Check out our Perfect Turkey Recipe for detailed instructions. We hope these turkey tips help you have the best Thanksgiving table ever. And stay tuned for more Thanksgiving tips and recipes next week!