My Thanksgiving Feast was prepared and enjoyed last week since we have other plans this year on Thanksgiving Day, and my family never wants to miss out on my fabulous cooking! So I am already able to share my Turkey Tips from this year with you all. Everyone knows how much I love planting and taking care of my herb gardens and also giving herbs from my garden as gifts! I’ve shared my tips for growing herbs and I pick and use them nearly everyday. When it comes to making the best turkey that I can, I feel that using my fresh herbs does make a difference in flavor. It’s easy and anyone can do it! If you don’t have any growing at your house you can find fresh herbs in the produce section of your market. Here are some tips that I use to make that perfect turkey that everyone raves about.
Making a turkey is simple and I share my tips for anyone who has never tried it before. BIG TIP is that inside the cavity of the turkey and the back end, you will find the detached turkey neck and a bag of giblets (heart, etc.), some use these to stew in a separate pan for flavor in the gravy. I tell you this so you can discard them from your turkey before you bake them inside. I had a friend who did this once because he had never heard of this!
There are many ways to prepare a turkey. I’ve tried a few but tend to still love the “old school” method best. It’s simple and I know the outcome because I’ve been doing it this way for MANY years! They key to great flavor though is my use of fresh ingredients. I start with using a fresh turkey. I don’t stuff my turkey with stuffing but make it on the side. Instead I stuff my turkey with things that will flavor the meat.
Here’s what is stuffed inside my turkey:
1. Williams & Sonoma Brine mix (for seasoning). I put 2 handfuls and rub it all inside the cavity of the turkey. It is mostly comprised of rock salt with peppercorns, some seasoning, dried orange peel, etc.
2. I sprinkle garlic salt inside.
3. 1 carrot
4. celery (I use the inside part with leaves that can’t be sliced for the stuffing)
5. 1 small yellow onion (peeled but left whole with only the ends cut off)
6. 1 small orange or tangerine (peeled but left whole)
7. 2 bunches of fresh sage (approx. 14 leaves)
8. 5 large fresh bay leaves
9. 2 stems of fresh rosemary (approx. 4 or 5 inches each)
10. 1 sprig of fresh thyme
11. 1 sprig of fresh marjoram
12. I throw in a Tablespoon or so more of rubbed sage from a jar (found in your market)
At my house the turkey skin is so crisp and flavorful that everyone fights over it! Here is what I do to add even more flavor to my turkey and get it so flavorful and good!
1. Place even more fresh sage leaves and a few bay leaves in the layer between the meat and the skin. Yes if start at the front and carefully run your finger under the skin you can get in between to add a few leaves.
2. Next I rub softened butter all over the outside skin of my turkey.
3. Then I sprinkle the outside of the whole turkey with garlic salt, pepper and even more dried/rubbed sage!
Oh I nearly forgot the tell you that I first had placed my turkey in a 16inch nonstick Roasting Pan on it’s non-stick rack. It is so easy to clean and I’ve had it for years and love using it. There are many different companies that make them in all different price ranges. So find one that suits you.
Now that The Beast is ready to go I cover the whole pan in foil. (I take two equal lengths of foil and connect them together by rolling them together into a seam, to make my foil wide enough.) This foil stays on until about 2/3rds of the cooking time is over and then I take it off to brown the skin for the rest of the cooking.
I bake my turkey in a 325 F degree oven. I always cook at least a 20 pound bird so it takes some time. The times are taken from my original Betty Crocker Cookbook which I have always referred to as a guide.
10 to 13 pounds cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours
14 to 17 pounds cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours
18 to 21 pounds cook for 4 1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds cook for 5 1/2 to 6 hours
Remember about 2/3 of the way through take your foil off so the skin can brown. Then also at that time and every half hour after that, I bates the turkey with the juices from inside the pan to keep it moist.
May you all have a warm and cozy feeling in your home on this Thanksgiving Day as you gather around the kitchen and make memories of your own! What is your favorite way to prepare your turkey? What is your old stand by method? How will you prepare your turkey this year? Mmmm I’m hungry now!