As you know from yesterday’s Cornbread Stuffing recipe, Thanksgiving is full of wonderful food memories for me — and it happens to be my favorite holiday! After all, it’s all about food!
I go nuts with the turkey, and I love the entire process. If time permits, I highly recommend brining your turkey (see how to brine your turkey below). Brining will add moisture and flavor and will help keep the turkey from drying out.
Covering the turkey with bacon is brilliant! This “trick” serves as an automatic baster — and adds an insanely delicious smoky flavor.
So go nuts! Make this oh-so-amazing Thanksgiving turkey!
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (12-pound) whole brined turkey (see how to brine your turkey below)
About 1 dozen strips applewood smoked bacon
About 10 fresh rosemary springs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and adjust a rack that will fit your roasting pan and turkey. The rack will likely need to be below the middle. Then prepare a large roasting pan with a raised rack. Add two cups of water to the bottom of the pan and set aside.
Make compound butter by combining the butter with the paprika, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Set aside.
Remove the neck and insides of the turkey, rinse it inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Use your hands to loosen the skin on the turkey breast and legs. Then rub all but about 1 tablespoon of the compound butter under the skin, being careful to leave it intact. Set the remaining butter aside.
Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack. After about 15 minutes, use a basting brush to spread the rest of the butter on the turkey’s surface. Continue to roast until the skin is brown, about 10 more minutes. Then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
Gently turn the turkey over so the breast side is down on the rack. (Yes, this is tricky with a big turkey — you might need to hold each end with paper towels for a better grip.) Cover the back and sides of the turkey with the bacon slices, using rosemary springs to hold them in place.
Return the turkey to the oven (as it is, breast side down) and roast until the internal temperature is 155 degrees. The final internal temperature will be about 165 degrees, as the turkey will continue to cook for several minutes outside the oven. The juices should run clear and the legs should move easily when it’s done. Cooking times might vary, but it should take about 2 hours. If your turkey is getting too brown before it has finished cooking, cover it with foil.
Wait at least 20 minutes before carving (this allows the juices to settle). Remove the bacon and add it to your serving platter. Place the turkey slices over the bacon as you carve. Garnish your platter with fresh herbs.
1 day ahead of time: If desired, brine the turkey. (The turkey will be removed from the brine after 12 hours — see brining instructions below.)
Up to 5 days and at least 3 hours ahead of time: Make the compound butter.
About 2-1/2 to 3 hours ahead of serving time: Begin roasting the turkey.
How to brine your turkey:
The measurements listed are for a turkey that is about 12 to 15 pounds.
- Make a bouquet garni with 1/4 cup allspice berries, 1/2 cup black peppercorns and 12 bay leaves. (“Bouquet garni” is French for “bouquet garnish.” It’s a small bundle of herbs and spices typically wrapped in cheesecloth and tied together with string.)
- In a large stock pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil with 1-pound of kosher salt. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in 2 cups honey, 4 cups maple syrup, 1 tablespoon ground cloves, 10 cinnamon sticks, and the bouquet garni. Continue to simmer for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. (With such a large quantity of ingredients, cooling could take a few hours — I usually do this the night before I want to use it and let it cool all night on the stove.)
- Once it has cooled to room temperature, pour the brine into a large plastic tub. (Make sure it’s large enough to avoid overflowing!) Rinse the turkey with cold water, inside and out. Add about 1 large bag of ice to the brine and place the turkey in slowly, making sure it’s fully submerged in the liquid. Cover with a lid and/or plastic wrap. Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator, up to about 12 hours.
- Remove the turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and prepare according to the turkey roasting instructions.
When purchasing your turkey, allow about one pound per person. It’s always better to get more than you think you’ll need. Leftovers are the best!
You should purchase your turkey only one to two days before you plan to cook it and keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.
Please note again that the above timeline is for roasting a turkey that is approximately 12-pounds. Roasting times will change based on the weight of your turkey.
If your turkey is small enough to fit in a pot where you’ve made the brine, you can add the turkey to that pot!
You can also brine the turkey in a large plastic bag if you don’t have the proper container. However, please be aware that if you do so, that the bag has not been treated with any chemicals. (Many regular plastic trash bags have been.)Pin It