Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it's time to start making plans for that big bird. I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes for cooking that big bird. Plus here are some tips as well. So sit back and enjoy your Thanksgiving, knowing that your family is having the best dinner of the year.
Do you know that a "frozen" turkey is fresher than a so called "fresh" turkey?
The frozen turkey have been frozen immediately upon preparation. The so called fresh turkeys can sit in your store for days. I always buy a frozen turkey because of this.
What type should you buy - Fresh or Frozen?
This is what my local favorite butcher told me. The so-called "fresh" turkeys have been sitting around for many, many days. From the processing, trucking to the grocery store, and then in the grocery store. These are not fresh turkeys!
His advice to to purchase a frozen turkey, as they are flash frozen immediately after being butchered. Frozen turkey are fresher turkeys!
Use a shallow turkey roasting pans. If you use a deep roasting pan, you wind up steaming the meat. If you don't have a good roasting pan, you should purchase one a good sturdy one with handles.
BEWARE of the aluminum foil disposable roasting pans as they are not sturdy enough to hold a large turkey and can buckle up when trying to remove the hot turkey from the oven. Most of these pans are not sturdy enough to carry a 12 pound or more turkey. They can buckle and cave in, and have been known to cause injuries by collapsing under the weight. Make sure your pan is sturdy enough to handle the bird safely.
Do NOT stuff your turkey ahead of time as harmful bacteria growth could spoil the uncooked turkey.
Just before roasting, stuff the body and the neck of the turkey. Do not pack in as the stuffing will expand during cooking. If packed in too tightly, it will be very dense instead of light.
Using kitchen twine or skewers, tie or truss the abdomen closed and the legs together close to the body so that the stuffing cooks evenly.
Truss or Not to Truss - You do not need to bother with complicated trussing. Instead, secure the legs by tucking the ankle joints into the pocket of skin at the tail end. Tuck wing tips back under the shoulders of bird (called "akimbo").
Roast your turkey breast-side down on a v-shaped rack until the last hour or so in the oven, then turn it to brown the breast. The result is a moister white meat.
This is optional, but I like to rub some butter over the skin of the turkey before beginning the roasting. Vegetable oil may also be used, but I like the taste of real butter. This helps the skin brown.
I also like to add 1 cup chicken broth/stock to the bottom of the turkey pan before beginning the cooking. This will create a steam room-type environment in the oven, which help keep the breast moist but will not prevent browning of the skin.
Basting during the roasting process is an unnecessary extra stop. Basing in the last hour of roasting can actually turn a beautiful crisp turkey skin soft. Baste the turkey with accumulated juices from the bottom of the pan.
If the turkey is browning too quickly, make a tent out of aluminum foil and place over the top of the turkey.
Never rely on the little plastic thermometer in some turkeys to pop out.
If you wait for it, the turkey will overcook. Instead stick an instant read thermometer several inches down through the skin between the thigh and the breast so the tip ends up about an inch above the joint. They turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 165.
Let the cooked turkey "rest" after it have been removed from the oven.
While the turkey cooks, the juices are forced away from the heat to the middle of the turkey. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes after it is removed from the oven. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey. A moist turkey is easier to carve.
Prepare your turkey gravy while the turkey is resting.
After the turkey has rested, remove the stuffing/dressing and place in a serving dish.
Carve your turkey and serve.
If you need your oven to reheat or cook side dishes, it's better to serve the turkey at room temperature with hot gravy than to reheat it.
Reheating dries out the meat. The interior of a large turkey will stay quite hot for at least an hour.
Roast Turkey with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry (neck and giblets reserved, liver discarded)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. packed light-brown sugar
1/4 c. spicy brown mustard
Preheat oven to 350 with rack in lowest position. Place turkey on roasting rack set in a large roasting pan. Season inside of turkey with salt and pepper. Loosely fill neck and large cavity with dressing; fold skin over, and secure with skewers or trussing needles, if necessary. Bend wing tips forward, and tuck under neck cavity. Using kitchen twine, tie legs together securely. Rub turkey all over with butter; season with salt and pepper.
Add neck, giblets, and 3 cups water to roasting pan. Cover turkey loosely with aluminum foil. Roast 1 hour, and then baste with pan juices every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of a thigh avoiding bone registers 125, 1 to 2 hours more.
Remove foil; increase heat to 400. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and mustard; brush turkey with glaze. Rotate pan, and continue to roast turkey, brushing with glaze 2 to 3 more times, until thermometer registers 165, 45 minutes to 1 hour more (tent with buttered foil if browning too quickly; add more water if pan becomes dry).
Transfer turkey to a platter; reserve pan with drippings for gravy (opposite). Cover turkey loosely with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 hour). Before serving, remove dressing, and carve.
Chef's Note: To ensure a juicy Thanksgiving turkey, buy an inexpensive instant-read thermometer, and roast the bird to the temperature specified in the recipe.
1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry inside and out (neck and giblets reserved for gravy, liver discarded)
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature, plus more for aluminum foil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350, with roasting rack in lowest position. Stuff and prepare turkey for roasting.
Set roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Place turkey on rack; rub all sides with butter, and season generously with salt and pepper. Pour 3 cups water into roasting pan. Loosely cover turkey with aluminum foil (unbuttered). Roast 1 hour, then baste every 30 minutes with pan liquids until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 125, 2 to 3 hours.
Remove foil; raise oven heat to 400. Continue roasting, brushing 3 to 4 times with maple syrup, until thigh reaches 170, 45 to 60 minutes more (temperature will rise about 10 degrees as turkey rests after roasting).
If bird browns too quickly, loosely cover with buttered foil; add more water if pan becomes dry. Transfer turkey to a serving platter, cover loosely with buttered foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving so juices are reabsorbed. Reserve pan for making gravy.
The next recipe may be a bit strange, but it does work and the turkey is quite delicious too. As for being moist, I must say that it is quite moist and tender. Just remember the when using this method, be sure that the brown bag does not touch any flame or heating element.
Famous Brown Bag Turkey
1 (18 -20 lb.) whole turkey
2 stalks celery roughly chopped
1 carrot roughly chopped
1 onion cut into quarters
3 -4 crushed garlic cloves
Take everything out of the turkey. There will be a giblet bag and some other stuff.
Next add vegetables to the inside of the turkey. You don’t even have to peel anything. This is easy because the veggies are just for flavor -- you are going to throw them away later.
Take the onion and cut it into quarters.
Chop a nice long carrot.
Do the same with a couple stalks of celery.
Add several cloves of garlic that you mash between a broad kitchen knife and the kitchen counter.
Throw it all inside the turkey.
Then rub the turkey all over with olive oil -- not butter because butter usually has salt in it and salt is the enemy of a moist turkey. Make sure the whole bird is covered in olive oil.
Put the turkey in a roasting pan and cover it with a large brown paper bag.
Staple shut. If you have a huge turkey use two paper bags at each end. It won’t stick to the bird because of the olive oil.
Sprinkle the bag all over with water.
Place into pre-heated 375 oven. ON THE MIDDLE RACK.
The bag won’t burn because paper burns at 451 and we're at 375.
The advantage of the brown paper bag over the Reynolds cooking bag is that the paper breathes so the turkey ROASTS. In the Reynolds bag the turkey STEAMS, giving it a different taste.
Roast for 13-15 minutes per pound.
When you think it's ready, shove a meat thermometer through the bag and into the turkey and give it a minute to register. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bone.
The thermometer should register between 163-170.
Remove from oven, cut away the bag and remove the basting pan.
Do not throw out the drippings!
To make the gravy, strain the pan juices into a really big pot. Any juices that accumulate on the turkey platter get poured into the pot.
Add six oz. of boiling chicken broth and 1/8 cup of cornstarch to the gravy to thicken it up. Cook on low heat and stir and cook and stir.
If it seems it isn’t going to be thick enough, add a little more cornstarch.
Lime Turkey Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese
12 oz. Ricotta Cheese
6 tbsp. Butter, soften at room temperature
6 tbsp. Parsley or Cilantro, minced
¾ tsp. Each salt and pepper
1 15 lb. Turkey
6 tbsp. Lime juice
Preheat the oven to 475.
In a bowl, combine cheese, butter, parsley, salt and pepper. Carefully loosen the skin over the turkey breast with your fingertips and stuff the cheese mixture between the skin and breast, arranging it in an even layer. Pull the skin back into place and truss the chicken.
Rub the turkey with the lime juice and set it breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast, uncovered basting every 15 minutes until golden. About 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to 375 and roast, uncovered while basting every 15 minutes, until juices run clear when the turkey is prick with a fork.
Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and allow to rest for 15 minutes, covered loosely with aluminum foil, before carving.