Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey

This time of year, it seems as though supermarkets are just giving away turkeys. Literally. I went grocery shopping a couple of days ago, and lo-and-behold, I was given a free turkey by the cashier (apparently, my purchases qualified me for an in-store promotion). I got the bird home, and wouldn't you know it - I didn't have enough room to store it in my freezer (it was a big bird!). So I roasted it up, and even now as I type this, I am still enjoying the aromas (with the finished bird all carved up for sandwiches, soup and enchiladas, I'm making stock from the leftover bits). But it occurred to me that roasting a turkey is intimidating for some. There are enough places out there to get recipes for prepping your holiday bird, so I won't go there - but I will outline a few things that I do that ensure succulent, juicy roasted turkey every time!
  • Stuff the interior cavity of the bird with aromatics. For the turkey pictured here, I used lemon wedges, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and fresh sage. I seasoned the exterior of the bird with only salt and pepper.
  • Slip little pats of butter underneath the skin in strategic locations (the breast, in particular). Just make small incisions to the skin, poke the butter through the holes, and then flatten it out sub-derma with your fingers. The more places you sneak in the butter, the juicier (duh!).
  • Roast the turkey in high heat - I use a 400-degree oven. As such, tent the bird with aluminum foil until the last 30 minutes or so to keep it from over-browning. By removing the foil at the end, you'll get a beautiful caramel-colored exterior.
  • USE A MEAT THERMOMETER! It may seem obvious, but you just have to do it. Otherwise, you'll run the risk of over- or under-doing it, and there's just no turning back. Place the thermometer's probe at the deepest part of the breast. I turn off the oven when the temperature reading reaches 180 degrees; when it reaches 190 degrees, I take the bird out of the oven. I then let it continue to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving.

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