Everyone always tells me that the turkey is the most difficult part of pulling off Thanksgiving… and I was never really sure because my father has always handled the turkey. Did I ever tell you about my dad? He’s my very own super hero. Anyway ~ each year I help with the turkey in some small way… whether it is insisting on adding lemon to it, or sprinkling it with oregano, or whatever. This year however, I did the whole thing on my own.
I had a little help. My older sister brought be a free range, cleanly raised birdie. I will tell you it is not like those flaccid Butterballs with the loose skin and creepishly uniformly white plucked skin. This birdie was well raised. Firm, and fresh. I can’t describe it, but the minute I pulled it from its plastic bag, I knew it was going to be good.
I read someplace that a little lemon in the cavity helps keep the bird from smelling to gamey and a little water in the pan helps move the bird along to roast more quickly and end up more succulent. I also read quite a bit about beer cans, deep fryers, and weird combinations but I set those ideas aside.
After rinsing my bird in very cold water, I patted it dry. I also looked it over and removed any pin feathers and extra skin. Then, I sliced two little holes by the thighs and tucked the wing-tips in to prevent burning. With my fingers, I generously spread 8 tablespoons of high quality butter over every surface of the bird. Using an aggressive 3 finger pinch of good salt, generously salted the inside and outside of the bird. I stuffed two spray-free lemons cut in half inside of the cavity. I also sprinkled a good amount of oregano over the bird and tucked a few sprigs of herbs between the lemons.
I roasted (baked?) my turkey in the oven on a roasting pan at 325 degrees F for 3 hours and 30 minutes. I periodically checked on the bird and poured water into the basin of the roasting pan when it started to get too dry. I had a 14 pound bird. I would have said that I could have done about 3 hours and 15 minutes, as the breast of my bird was a bit dry.
Simple and easy. After carving, I broke down the carcass and made turkey stock. Unfortunately I was harebrained and left it on the stove top one day too long and it went bad… however if I was as diligent as I should have been I would have added some carrots and celery and reduced the stock by half before freezing for another use.
I think with good quality ingredients, simple preparation is the best way to enjoy the food. This turkey was by far the most delicious I’ve had… maybe enhanced a bit because I did it!
How did you guys make your turkeys?