Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving is coming....are you ready?

Up today is the Turkey.  The centerpiece of the meal.   Here's how I make it.

I use a stand alone electric roaster, like this one.

If you use one of these, you free up the oven to make everything else.   I heart my roaster.

Here's the step by step...

1) Buy a Butterball Turkey.  Don't be cheap.  Period.

2) Defrost turkey (if frozen) starting at least 3 days before you intend to cook it.  Put in a roasting pan in the refrigerator to defrost.  Trust me when I say you don't want any incidental defrosted turkey goo all over your fridge.

3) Clean turkey.  Or if you are terribly persuasive, get someone else to do it.  This part is just nasty.  Be sure you remove the neck and giblets.  Yes, I really know people who have forgotten to do that.  I let my kids dissect the heart....because I am just that way.  Rinse out the inside of the turkey really good and dry it off with paper towels.  Wash Bleach your hands, arms and entire kitchen.

4) If you insist on stuffing the bird, go to it.  Do not over stuff it, and be sure to tie the legs together with the little string they give you.  I do not stuff my turkey.  Well, because eww.  You have to cook a stuffed bird longer, and risk it drying out more.

5) Roast turkey

My recipe for the turkey has changed a little over the years, and though I make no claim to being a famous chef, I can make an awesome turkey.

Again, there are steps.  Worth following.

Here are the ingredients:

- Turkey (mine are usually in the 16 pound range)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Garlic
- 1 stick of butter
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock

1) Place turkey breast side up on rack in roaster.  If the legs touch the sides of the roaster, tie or pin in so they are not. It should be on a rack raised up from the bottom for two reasons.  One, it cooks a lot better.  Two, it is easier to get it out when it's done.

2) Rub all exposed areas with olive oil.  Rub generously with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

3) Place at least 2 tbsp freshly pressed garlic in the cavity of the turkey.

4) Melt butter in a saucepan, then mix with chicken stock and add to the bottom of the roaster.

5) Turn roaster up to highest setting and put lid on.  DO NOT OPEN for 30-45 minutes.  The turn down to 350 and roast for specified time depending on the weight of the bird.  Baste only once every half hour or so.  The more frequently you open the lid, the more moisture will escape.  I do not use the pop up button thermometers, in my experience they don't work well enough to be reliable.  We have gone through a lot of thermometers, and the best we have used is one that has a probe connected to a cord that houses the temperature sensor. 

Be sure to check temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and breast, being sure that you aren't hitting a bone with the thermometer.

This isn't a perfect guide, but most turkeys between 12-18 pounds take approximately 3-4 hours.  Altitude affects cooking time, it takes longer up here to be done. 

6) Once the turkey approaches 165 degrees, turn it back up again to brown the skin for 10-15 minutes.  If the  legs start to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. 

7) Remove turkey from roaster and let sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.  This helps seal the juices in and keep it moist. 

8) Use juices in the bottom of the pan to make gravy....that recipe will come later.   I know the anticipation is just killing you. 

Now, go get your turkey and convince someone to clean it for you.  :)

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