This was the hit of Thanksgiving. I have roasted maybe 45 or 50 turkeys in my life but this one was the best. Well, I started at 16.Salt brine the bird and clean it up as you usually do. RINSE WELL. There is a lot written on the brine being really important. My family always did it so it wasn't news to me.
WARNING ON SALT. I found poor rinsing can cause your gravy to be too salty
Brine note 1: You will need at least 10 to 12 hours according to most chefs., a container large enough to hold your turkey and enough brine to cover it. You'll also need salt, water, seasonings, and enough room to refrigerate it. Both Reynolds (Oven Roasting Bag for Turkeys) and Ziploc (XL Storage Bag) are big enough for brining. I have placed a turkey in the sink inside a clean plastic bag with salt etc...and filled the sink outside the bag with ice. It worked for me. I brine my turkey about 4 hours usually. Its fine.
Brine note 2: Alton Brown puts in brown sugar and salt for the brine.
Stuffing note: I have not included stuffing or actual temperatures since the instructions found on the turkey will do just fine. "Joy of Cooking" also had traditional recipes that are very good.
You may use whatever spices you want on the bird.
2 T poultry seasoning or your own mix.
If you think it needs more, go for it.
( I like to use fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic.)
1 cube of butter
1 cube of butter for basting
crushed garlic or garlic salt (optional)
1 cup of water or more
apple, onion, celery, carrot (optional)
1 zip lock bag for the butter medallions
Aluminum foil for tenting
PREPARE FOR ROASTING THE TURKEY
Remove from the brine and rinse it off. It should be ready for adding the above.
BASTING THE TURKEY
Prepare the following spiced butter the night before roasting.
Soften the cube of butter and mix in the seasoning. Place this spiced butter in a ziploc bag.
ROLL THE BUTTER DOWN TO THE BOTTOM of the bag and then flip the empty part over it to form a roll. Refrigerate over night. You might even freeze it for 20 minutes. It must cut easily. Spiced butter must be hard.
Remove the bag. Slice medallions of butter about 1/4 inch thick. They need to remain firm.
LOOSEN THE SKIN on the bird over the breast with your hand. Just keep wiggling your fingers under the skin and it comes loose. Slip in at least 3 medallions under the skin and arrange so they will bast the breast. Do the same for the other breast, neck and legs if you can. This keeps the meat moist during the roasting.
PHOTO is of bird almost ready for oven. The foil is to protect my nonstick pan from the roasting rack.
Notice the butter/herb medallions. I also placed whole fresh sage leaves under the skin. Which was not my best idea because if you are into showing off the browned bird, the leaves of sage still come through. I didn't like the look very much.
I added fresh whole sage and thyme to the bottom of the pan. That was a GOOD idea. You win some, you lose some. I had not yet added the warm butter over the skin. I sprinkled some poultry seasoning on the bird too. I do that just before tenting it and sealing it as carefully as I can.
Then a cup or more of water (wine?) in the pan. This will steam the turkey. VERY IMPORTANT.
DO NOT OVERDO THE WATER (WINE?) ADDED.
It keeps the juices from browning and that adds flavor to the gravy of course.
FILLING THE CAVITY
Add some of the butter medallions to the cavity.
I put in a cut up onion, celery, apple, and carrots along with my choice of poultry spices (sage). Tie the legs if you want. Baste the outside of the skin with butter and a little garlic if you like.
PREP FOR THE OVEN
Preheat your oven following your instructions that came with the bird or use "Joy of Cooking."
Place the bird on a roasting rack inside the roasting pan. Tent loosely and then seal the turkey with the foil. Try and not touch much of the breast with foil if you can.
During the roasting, keep it sealed for 2 hours or more. Check it and baste it of course. It will not need much. If the water DISAPPEARS, add a small amount of water to the pan. The steam does the trick.
When your bird is ready to uncover and brown, baste it as usual for about 45 minutes. Basting doesn't moisten the meat but it makes the skin chewy. That is what the experts say anyway. Time in the oven depends on the size of your bird. I usually roast a 12 to 15 pound bird. I did not include temperatures. Just follow what you always do. It will be fantastic. After the bird is done, remove from oven and let it sit for 30 minutes to have the juices set in the meat. It will be the best turkey you ever roasted.
CARVING THE BIRD
I watched Tyler carve out the entire breast in one piece and then cross slice it like a pork roast. It looks good. I am going to do it that way this Thanksgiving.
NOTE: The Barefoot Contessa had a show today using olive oil instead of butter under the skin then white wine instead of water. I am going to change to wine on my next turkey and see if I can tell a difference.