We hosted our second Thanksgiving this year and I'll slowly post all the recipes as I get time. But for now, I'll start with the most important part - the turkey!
I did a few things differently from last year and I think for the most part, they were good changes. Here's what I did this year along with a few tips and tricks that I've learned.
- The biggest difference is that I bought the Trader Joe's fresh pre-brined turkey instead of the usual Butterball. Both were good and juicy and I'm not really sure if I have a preference. I think next time, I'm going to try brining my own and see how that goes.
- I put the turkey uncovered in the fridge for a few hours because I heard that helps with a crispier skin. I did get a crispier skin this year, but I'm not sure if this is the reason or if it was because I used oil instead of butter. Either way, it's not much trouble and the turkey is much easier to work with after being in the fridge since the skin is much drier and not so slippery, so I'll probably continue to do this in the future.
- Last year, when the breast was perfectly cooked, the dark meat still needed more time in the oven. I learned a little trick from America's Test Kitchen to ice the breast so that the cooking time for white and dark meat even out. It worked like a charm! Just leave the bird out for a while to come closer to room temperature, then flip the bird breast side down on a bag of ice and stick some ice inside the bird too to cool down the breast meat.
- I then slathered the turkey with a rosemary, lemon zest, and oil mixture that I made in the food processor. I definitely prefer this to the butter, rosemary, and lemon zest mixture I used last year. Last year, I stuck butter under the skin and on top, but it was difficult to get the butter to stick on the skin of the turkey. Oil is much easier. Plus, I think the oil made the skin much crisper than the butter, though that may also have been from leaving it in the fridge uncovered to dry out the skin.
- Next, I heavily salt and peppered the skin all over.
- I also like to stuff the bird with slices of apple, lemon, orange, and rosemary twigs for extra flavor and moisture.
- Stick a thermometer probe in the deepest part of the breast and another in the deepest part between the leg and body, being careful not to hit the bone, and then pop the turkey in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. I learned this trick from Alton Brown. Doing this step will give you nice, perfectly browned skin.
- After 30 minutes, cover the breast with foil and turn the heat down to 350. Cook until the thermometers read an internal temperature of 161 degrees. My 17.5 pounder took a little less than 4 hours.
- Take the bird out of the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. I served mine on a platter with a lemon flower, a few cranberries and steamed broccoli.
- After presenting the turkey and taking a few pictures, the hubz took it and carved it and put it back on the serving platter. Didn't he do a great job?
This is also my submission to Joelen's Tasty Tools event featuring roasting pans. Check out Joelen's Culinary Adventures to see what other goodies people made using roasting pans.