A few years ago I decided to do something daring – roast my own turkey for Thanksgiving. While I enjoy cooking and baking, this is one bird I never had the nerve to tackle. I found a simple and easy recipe on Allrecipes.com that gave me the confidence to try it. Looking back, I don’t know what I was afraid of. It really isn’t difficult to do as long as you follow a few simple tips.
- Brine your bird. Take a food-safe container (that fits in your fridge and fits the thawed turkey) and add 3/4 kosher salt to every gallon of water (you can use less salt if you prefer, it’s not an exact science.) Let your turkey soak in the brine overnight in the refrigerator. Taking the time for simple step will almost guarantee a moist bird on your Thanksgiving table.
- Butter. Take a stick or two of butter and slice it into pats. Gently separate some of the skin from the breast and place pats of butter between the skin and breast meat. You can use a compound herb butter if you want to get fancy, like this suggestion from epicurious.com.
- More butter. Hey, I didn’t say this was low-calorie! Melt a stick of butter and coat the bottom of the turkey. Place it breast side down in your roasting pan.
- Stuff it. Some people prefer bread stuffing, but I use veggies to help keep the turkey moist. Cut up onions, carrots, celery into chunks and place it in the cavity. You can add whatever veggies and herbs you like – have fun with it!
- Roast. Cooking times will vary according to the size of your turkey. A good investment is a digital cooking thermometer that will beep when the bird reaches 180 degrees. Butterball.com has some great calculators that will estimate cooking times and portions.
- Turn your Turkey! Yes, half-way through your cooking time take your turkey out an turn it over so the breast is up and place it back in the oven. Is it easy? Depends on the size of the turkey, but I’m here to tell you I have done it. If the top of the bird starts to brown too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top to prevent burning.
That’s it! No roasting bags and no basting. Just a delicious, moist, homemade turkey for you and your loved ones on Thanksgiving day.