11.20.2012

Totally Turkey Lurkey – Thanksgiving Turkey 101



My husband’s family celebrated Thanksgiving early this year, and we (the women in the family), decided on who would bring what; I chose to bring the Turkey Lurkey!! This is the second time I’ve made Thanksgiving turkey using the William Sonoma brine and an herb butter recipe. I am happy to say, it turned out great and was pretty easy!

This year we had eight guests so I decided on a 14 pound turkey (last year we had a 22 pound Turkey). You should average one pound per person, or if you want leftovers, 1 ¼ pound per person. I think a fresh turkey is always best, but frozen will work too. {Make sure you allow yourself a few days in the fridge to defrost the bird before it’s time to roast it if you purchase a frozen bird.} This year I used a fresh Zackey Farms Young Turkey.

To begin, I used a jar of the William Sonoma Turkey Brine. I followed the directions for making the brine on the back of the container. While the brine was cooking I prepared my bird. I removed the giblets and washed them under the faucet before I placed them in a Ziplock bag. I then put the giblets in the freezer until the big day to use in the gravy. Once the giblets are removed, I rinsed the turkey under cool water and pat it dry with paper towels and placed it in a large plastic bag. This year I used a 2 gallon Ziplock bag, but last year with my bigger turkey I used a 5 gallon bag. Cover turkey completely with your brine.

Follow the recipe for the brine and then add it to the turkey in the Ziplock bag. I always double bag my turkey and then I also place the turkey in a large kitchen plastic trash bag just to ensure no leaks in the refrigerator. The turkey brine recipe requires that you brine for 12-36 hours prior to baking; I always brine for 36 hours.

Once you have brined your bird, remove it from the bag and thoroughly rinse it and pat dry with paper towels. I place my bird breast up on a poultry rack in a disposable turkey roasting tin. Preheat the oven on “Convection Bake” at 375 degrees.

HERB BUTTER RUB RECIPE:

Ingredients:
1 cup room temperature butter (2 sticks)
One large handful of each fresh herb: basil, thyme, chives, rosemary, sage
2 garlic cloves
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
1. Finely chop all the herbs and garlic.
2. Mix herbs and garlic into the room temperature butter.
3. Add about 8 twists of pepper from your pepper mill( ¼ teaspoon of pepper).
4. Add a healthy pinch of sea salt(1 teaspoon of salt).

Note: You can make the herb butter a day or two ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.  Make sure you take it out of the refrigerator two hours prior to using it, to bring it back to room temperature for easy spreading.


Quarter one white onion in large pieces, chop 4 stalks of celery and place them inside the turkey cavity. Add to the cavity a handful of fresh Italian parsley and one handful of fresh Thyme. With clean hands, start to gently separate the skin of the turkey from the breast meat. Start at the cavity and work your way towards the neck. When you have separated the skin on both breasts, take half the amount (1/2 cup) of the herb butter and evenly distribute it under the skin and on top of the breast meat. Now take the remaining herb butter and generously coat the rest of the outside of the bird.


Time to bake! Cover the bird with foil and make sure to cover the wings well (they burn pretty easily).  Place the bird on the bottom rack of your oven and close the door.

I convection baked my bird for two hours and then I used an instant read thermometer to check the turkey’s temperature. I placed the thermometer in between the upper part of the leg and the middle of the breast. The temperature read 120 degrees; a turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees. I then cooked my bird, uncovered(remove the foil), for 20 minutes to brown the top. When the 20 minutes was up, I recovered my turkey with the same aluminum foil and changed my oven setting to bake at 350 degrees. My 14 pound turkey took 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to 165 degrees.

I removed my turkey from the oven and thoroughly wrapped the entire turkey in aluminum foil and secured the foil under the ridge of the disposable roasting pan to make sure no heat would escape. Next, I took two large dish towels and laid them over the bird.

Now comes the MOST IMPORTANT PART of making the turkey…time to rest!!!  Give yourself plenty of time for the bird to rest; this will give you a nice juicy Turkey for Thanksgiving. Last year, I let the Turkey rest for 1 hour and this year 1 ½ hours. When I removed the towels and the foil you could see steam coming off the Turkey.

Our Turkey turned out amazing and it wasn’t hard. Anyone could do it! As a matter of fact, because of an injury to my left hand, my husband who prefers to stay out of the kitchen (under my guidance), is the one that made this Turkey (you can see his hands in all the pictures.)


I hope you give my Turkey Lurkey a try this Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble!!

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