It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and most of us are stocking up for the food fest that we will be preparing next week.
I wanted to share a few tips that I have picked up over the years when it comes to the star of the show – the turkey.
We’ve all been there – the turkey comes out of the oven, beautifully golden brown and steaming. It gets carved and plated, perhaps drizzled with a bit of gravy, and surrounded by potatoes, vegetables, and cranberry sauce.
Then you take a bite.
That turkey that looked so delectable turns out to be so dry that the gravy boat is getting passed around again – and again.
The best tricks I have found to resolve this? Brine, butter, and baste.
If you don’t already brine your bird, I highly recommend it. Find a cooler that it will fit inside of and grab a brine packet at the store or spice shop. They have instructions on the packaging.
When it’s time to cook the bird, grab your butter, herbs, garlic, and a lemon or two.
Leave your butter out on the counter to soften to room temperature (somewhere between ¼ and ½ a cup will work, depending on the size of your bird). Grab the packet of fresh herbs you picked up (sage, thyme, savory, possibly some rosemary) and mince up a good amount of them. For the larger leaves, roll them into a cigar, slice it lengthwise, and cut across the roll – it’s SO much easier!
Combine the fresh minced herbs with the softened butter. Add in some minced or crushed garlic (I use a tablespoon or so), squeeze the juice of ½-1 lemon into it, and mix it all together very well. Keep the lemons!
Now for the fun part!
Very carefully separate the skin from the meat – but don’t detach it! Using your hands, rub your garlic-herb butter mixture all over the bird between the skin and the meat, getting it as far as you can without tearing the skin (I sometimes use a wooden spoon to push clumps further under). If there are clumps of butter, press them gently from the outside of the skin in the direction that needs more butter.
Wipe your hands off on the outside of the skin.
Grab those lemons that you squeezed into the butter and toss them into the cavity of the bird. I sometimes squeeze another one over the top of the bird and on the inside of the cavity to add extra flavor. Toss those inside as well. If you have an extra carrot or two and some celery stalks, toss a couple of those inside as well.
Some people choose to bag their bird at this stage. I was blessed with a large roasting pan with a lid several years ago, so I use that instead for the first bit. Remember to baste your bird regularly to keep the juices circulating around the bird. If your pan allows for the space, use a small measuring cup to get more of the juices at a time & pour it over the top.
If you choose not to bag it, and you don’t have a large pan with a lid, you can cover the bird with aluminum foil – make sure to seal the foil around the edges of the pan to catch all of the steam as well.
And that’s it! Those are my tips for getting a moist, juicy turkey to the table. If you have any other tips that you’d like to share, please do! I’m always looking for new ideas when it comes to preparing a wonderful meal!