Monday, December 12, 2011

Crispy Skinned, Juicy Turkey

No, seriously, this thing was bad-assed.  I started the campaigning to scale back turkey cook times when I came home from college.  Less is really more, grandma!  The first time I was in charge of dinner, I spent A MONTH researching turkey recipes.  I’ve been perfecting this thing for four years, and this time was honestly the best.  Typically, I’ve been a dry-brine girl, but this time I mistakenly bought the wet kind and rolled with it.  Now I’ll never go back.  It’s time and space consuming, but dear sweet potatoes is it worth it.  Buy the brine.  The math on the cost control works in your favour, I promise. 

1 13-15 pound turkey

1 pkg of brine prepared as per instructions (with one key exception, I used pots of lapsang souchong (a smoky tea) instead of ½ the suggested regular water.)

2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons baking powder                              

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tsp alderwood smoked sea salt

1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

4-6 strips of thick cut bacon

2 granny smith apples, quartered

1 large onion, quartered

Brine turkey for at least eight hours (I accidentally went in for 18, but that’s not necessary.)
Mix the baking powder (it’s what crisps the skin) with the butter, add in the herbs, salt and pepper.
Wash off the brine and pat turkey dry.  Carefully molest the turkey.  This part makes me feel super dirty, but it’s what makes everything taste better.  You insert your hand in between the meat of the bird and the skin, loosening it as you go.  Rub the butter mixture on and underneath the skin.  Be generous.  I like to air dry the turkey for about an hour at this point.  There’s always something else that the oven can be baking.  Or you can do what I did and join your area’s local Turkey Trot and run/walk a few miles to justify all the calories you’re about to be stuffing down your gullet. 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Drape bacon slices over the turkey to add flavor and prevent over darkening.  Scatter the apple and onion pieces around the bottom of the roasting pan.  These are just aromatics.  Roast the turkey breast side down for 2 and a half hours.  Remove turkey and flip to breast side up.  Turn oven up to 475.  Roast an hour and a half longer, or until thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees.  Remove turkey from oven and flip breast side back down.  Allow turkey to rest for AT LEAST 30 minutes.  This is not a suggestion.  If you skip this part, all of the work you just did will still net you a dried out yucky turkey.  Leave it alone so the juices redistribute before carving and you’ll be rewarded with the best turkey in EVER.

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