Start saying your goodbyes to the yellow guy now.
I’m roasting a turkey on a Wednesday afternoon and I wanted you to know you can do the same. Yes, Thanksgiving Day is special and so is the meal we eat on that Thursday. But, there are no great reasons to save our turkey cravings until then. In fact, there are a couple good reasons NOT to, I’d say.
Number 1: There may not be as much meat to go around as you’d like.
Number 2: Your host may not be the best turkey cookin’ chef around. (Mine will be this year, though. My brother and his wife (fun to say that) are hosting at their new home. Fun!
Number 3: You won’t have as much room in the old gut as you would normally. This is true if you are like me and appreciate all the carbs that surround a Thanksgiving turkey.
Roasting a turkey is so much easier than you might think, it just takes a bit of time for sticking around the house and a strong stomach for shoving accoutrements where the sun doesn’t shine through a turkey.
The USDA has a great site which offers information on buying, thawing a cooking your bird. Go there once you have purchased your turkey. Remember, .59 cents a pound for a frozen guy at Fresh & Easy.
There are many ways to skin a cat. Why in the world would you need to skin a cat? That is gross. There are also many ways to brine a turkey. When in doubt, I love to go to my favorite quasi-scientist foodie, Alton Brown. Food Network offers a his roasted turkey recipe and tutorial, complete with video. You’ll need a big bucket, ice and place to put the two. This is why I don’t do the Alton Brown brine. I am sure it tastes amazing and someday when I have one of those giant farm kitchens with an extra fridge in the garage, I’ll do it. For now, I rubbed the dry brine sold for $2.99 at Fresh and Easy all over my turkey monster.
Prepping: Unwrap, rinse and drain your turkey. Putting aside the bag of giblety organs for your neighbor’s dog. Or, if you are my grandma, put them in the stuffing. Pat the turkey dry and place it on a raised rack over a large pan. If you have no large pan, do what I did and put it on top of two large metal spoons that are crisscrossed to keep the bird lifted. Rub that puppy down with some brine mix. You can make your own, but I just don’t have the time. Cover with whatever you have enough of (aluminum foil or plastic wrap) and refrigerate 8-24 hours.
“Stuffing”: Rinse off all the brine mix, pat dry and fill the turkey up with anything fruits and veggies that float your boat (almost anything.) Rather than waste tears on onions, I love to use F&E’s Stew Mix. I know most stores have the same mirepoix (carrot, celery and onion mix) for between $1.50-$3.00. I packed in a couple of lemon halves and normally would use oranges if I had any. Those two big owl eyes in the photo above? Parsnips. How parsnippity of me! I have used apples, full-sized celery and carrots in the past two. Anything that would roast well will work. I shoved a few lemon wedges under the skin, as well as some garlic and butter.
The HOT part: Roasting the turkey uncovered at 425 degrees or so, for 20-30 minutes is usually enough to get the outer skin nice and brown with a little crisp. Once that time goes off, full the roasting pan with 4 cups of stock and drizzle with olive oil or add more butter. You want to do this now, rather than at the start, because you will be turning the temp down to 350 degrees and preventing the skin from getting too crispy.
As you get closer to the end of cooking your turkey, perhaps the last hour or so, it’s wise to tent your bird with aluminum foil to keep the thinner wings and breast skin from burning or drying out too much. Resist the turkey baster, it is not your friend! Using a turkey baster is like spraying yourself with suntan oil on a hot day, it only helps to get you nice and crispy (read: dry.)
It is generally not a great idea to stuff your bird with dressing. Unless of course you are bacteria, then you should be all for this.
I’ll be posting my turkey tonight, it won’t be done for another three and a half hours. Be sure to come back tomorrow for this week’s Movies & Meals, you never know what you’re gonna get. (That was a clue.)