I often get asked how I prepare the turkey and for me, I have to say I am a total traditionalist only because feel led to follow the recipes that were passed down to me as they are truly delicious!
Secondly, as a classically trained chef, there’s something about roasting a turkey, and then yielding from that, the most amazing drippings and broth to make what we know as gravy, but finishes out to be a beautiful sauce. When you deep fry or smoke a turkey, it doesn’t yield the same style of drippings to make a fabulous gravy so that’s where I dig deep into my traditional roots and stick with what I know and look forward to every year.
So for those a little unsure on how to have success with making a traditional turkey, I’ll put in the comments what I do to yield this result. We typically will get two disposable roasting pans and put those together. If the turkey is particularly heavy, it just makes for a safer workspace and I’m always nervous about the hot grease and drippings when pulling it out of the oven when it’s done!
The method I do is VERY simple but it yields extraordinary results with a turkey that is beautifully tender and moist with enough drippings to make the most fabulous gravy! Here's what I shared with my Facebook followers!
"So we usually get about a 20 something pound turkey, let’s say 22 pounds-ish and I make sure I wash it really good inside and out, then fully drain and pat dry with paper towels! I chop up a bunch of carrots, onion, and celery and put that on the bottom of my roasting pan. It’s 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery. I make sure to season the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper and then take a stick of unsalted butter and I slather it on the entire outside of the turkey, so it sticks and smears to the skin. I then place the turkey on top of the vegetables along with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. If the turkey seems to be somewhat heavy, then first place it on a roasting rack inside the roasting pan and then place the vegetables all around. It just depends on how heavy the bird and if it’s going to rest safely in the pan, so it won’t wobble around. I don’t tie it up or anything like that. I just carefully place it on the roasting rack or the vegetables and then take about a quart of water and place that in the roasting pan. We roast it at 325°F for about 15 minutes per pound. Throughout the process of roasting, the butter proceeds to melt the skin and starts to create a beautiful crispy texture. Then the water in the vegetables starts to make this rich broth, and it makes it easy to baste throughout the cooking process. We end up with a lot of broth and the turkey is always so moist! I’m careful not to put too much salt and pepper because I don’t want the broth to be overly salty before making the gravy. I don’t ever bother with roasting it breast side down, etc. as many people do, I find it to be somewhat dangerous to handle a big bird when it’s so hot in the oven and I just allow it to roast low and slow. To make sure the turkey is done I always keep a meat thermometer nearby and check the thickest part of the thigh, we need to make sure it’s above 165°F to be safe and I also make sure that all the juices are running good and clear which is another great indicator of doneness. As the turkey is getting close to being done, to make sure that the skin doesn’t get too brown I will take a piece of heavy aluminum foil and slightly tent over the parts that seem to be picking up more color. It slows down the browning process, but still allows for cooking. We always end up with a turkey that has a tremendous amount of juice and is never dry. I just make sure that I have nice dry potholders, or kitchen towels to remove it from the oven because it tends to be quite heavy! I allow the bird to rest and then transfer it to Another sheet pan once it’s cool enough to handle and then use an electric knife to carve it up. I then strain all the juice from the bottom of the roasting pan and proceeded to make the pan gravy. I hope that helps!"
Enjoy and here's wishing you nothing but delicious on a day we give thanks for all the blessings in our lives!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!