It’s Thanksgiving time again and for some the anxiety level goes up when it comes to handling, cooking and carving a large bird. I know there is a movement or under-current in the culinary community to replace the turkey with other headliners. Our thought is if you cook a great turkey, you will want turkey every Thanksgiving. We have the ultimate turkey recipe for a rich moist and flavorful turkey. This memorable turkey recipe will have your friends and family talking about it for years.
There are several versions out there of why we eat turkey, but from what we can find, Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol raised the value of the turkey for two special times of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge ask Tiny Tim if that Prized Turkey was still in the poultrer’s window. Tiny Tim asked if he was referring the turkey as big as him. This scene romanticized the idea and gave more importance to a turkey being added to the table during those special Holidays, especially Thanksgiving.
If you cook a great turkey, you will want turkey every Thanksgiving. We have the ultimate turkey recipe for a rich moist and flavorful turkey. This memorable turkey recipe will have your friends and family talking about it for years.
Pick a fresh turkey versus a frozen. Keep your fresh bird in the fridge for a day or two before Thanksgiving. The afternoon before, remove your fresh turkey from the fridge, remove the outer packaging. Inside each end of the turkey, you will find a “neck” and the lower end, you will find a bag which holds the organs if you are so inclined to cook them and like the flavor of the heart, liver and gizzards. We usually pass on cooking these parts.
It is tradition at our house to cook two turkeys for Thanksgiving. The first is a more traditional turkey and the second turkey is our “test” bird. The test bird recipe is considered experimental and ever changing. Over the years, the experimental turkey has been Cajun, BBQ, deep-fried, and classic variations. The problem with the “two turkey” approach is we found two turkey recipe’s we love about two years ago and can’t get past this recipe and our prosciutto covered turkey (see prosciutto recipe on our blog as well). The most logical solution would be to cook three turkeys.
This recipe will produce turkey that is moist and flavorful with every bite. The secret here is the mayo.
Once your fresh turkey has been removed from the packaging, brine your turkey with the mayo mix as listed below. Once your turkey is brined as described below, let it sit overnight before cooking. Follow the cooking times and temps as listed below and watch this bird come out of your oven full of flavor and super moist.
Once you start to carve this turkey, you will see firsthand how all the layers of the turkey are moist from the outer layer to inner layer
- 12-15 pound fresh turkey – rinsed & patted dry. Remove neck & organs.
- 2 cups of Hellman’s Mayonnaise or Basic Mayo Recipe from the lovely Samin Nosrat in her book Salt Fat Acid Heat (Mayo recipe below)
- 2 tbs. sea salt
- 2 tsp. Rainbow peppercorn
- 2 tbs. Herb de Provence
- 1 tbs. smoked paprika
- 2 tbs. Italian seasoning
- 1 stick of butter cut into 12 pieces
- 3 carrots peeled & chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 2 Vidalia onions, cut into large pieces
- 1 quart container of turkey or chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Take a ½ cup of mayo & mix with veggies. Set aside
- Mix together remaining mayo & spices. Set aside
- Place turkey on rack inside a roasting pan
- Use your hand to separate the skin from the breast without tearing on both sides.
- Take remaining mayo mixture & rub between the skin & the breast & all over the outside of the turkey
- Take butter & put between the skin & breast & inside of the turkey
- Stuff cavity of turkey with veggies
- Pour 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock in the bottom of the pan.
- Cook Turkey uncovered for 15 minutes @ 450 degrees
- Remove after 15 minutes & reduce temperature to 325 degrees
- Lightly cover turkey with foil.
- Return to the oven & cook for 2 ½-3 hours until temperature reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees, basting every 30 minutes
- Remove & allow to rest for 15-20 minutes
- Carve & enjoy the turkey the way it should be – Moist!!
Samin Nosrat’s Basic mayo (Makes 2 1/4 cups)
2 ¼ cups of olive oil
- Place egg yolk in medium metal bowl on a non-skid surface to allow for whisking. Samin likes to take a tea towel, wet it and form a ring, placing the bowl inside to prevent it from sliding during mixing. (If you do not want to whisk, use a blender, stand mixer or food processor.
- Use a ladle or bottle with a nozzle to drip in oil a drop at a time, while whisking the oil into the yolk. Don’t stop whisking. Once you have added half the oil, you can a little more at a time until it thickens enough. If it becomes too thick to whisk, add a teaspoon or so of water.
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