Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey

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?
I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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.


Anonymous said...

Your Turkey looks perfect! I am sure it was delicious!

Anonymous said...

Your presentation is just GORGEOUS!

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully carved bird. And thanks for the tip on Trader Joe's having pre-brined turkey. I'll have to remember that for next year.

ErinsFoodFiles said...

It looks awesome! You did a great job!

What's Cookin Chicago said...

Kudos for a fabulous turkey! When I went to get our turkey at TJs they ran out! Hmph... so maybe for Christmas or next year! Otherwise I'll probably brine my own :)

That Girl said...

I never make the Thanksgiving turkey because both my mother and father LOVE to do that themselves (yes, we have two turkeys every Thanksgiving, one made by mom, one made by dad). If I were to make it though, I would want it to look just like yours. What great tips!

gaga said...

madebymel - thanks, it was delicious (at least in my opinion)

katie - thanks, all your stuff is always gorgeous too!

carolyn - yup, the hubz did a great job. make sure you go early for the trader joe's turkey, they seem to sell out every year.

erin - thanks!

joelen - yup, i missed out last year becuz i went too late. this year, i made sure to go early!

thatgirl - that's hilarious! who's turkey is better? =P

shavedicesundays said...

This looks so lovely and perfect! Hope you had a great one.

gaga said...

we did, thanks!

Karen | Citrus and Candy said...

Ooh yum...I love turkey! Imagining your turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes...I'm salivating! Wish we celebrated this holiday in Australia cos I love thanksgiving food!

Anonymous said...

I hope you do join Taste and Create! Your turkey looks delicious!