If you're cooking for a large crowd you're better off getting two smaller birds. Instead of one massive one with a bigger turkey it's going to take so long to cook. By the time the whole bird is cooked through the outside is going to be almost inedible. The safety concerns.
Don't to buy turkeys early because the refrigerators at the grocery store are much colder than what you have at home. If your turkeys frozen there's two ways to defrost it.
One you could do it in the fridge.
Quicker method by sticking your turkey and a big sink or even a cooler. And filling it up with fresh cold water every 30 minutes until it's totally defrosted. You should allow about 30 minutes to thaw for each pound of turkey a day before you're going to cook your turkey.
Two different kinds of ways to brine the traditional method.
To wet brine which basically leads sitting your turkey in a saltwater solution. We're gonna do a dry brine.
It's going to rub salt all over it it's a little bit less wasteful and also easier to do first things. First you're going to measure out the amount of salt you need. A look at the weight of your turkey and use half a teaspoon per pound. Before we get the turkey out you want to get a few things.
We're going to start cutting off any excess that we definitely aren't going to use. If there's extra skin around the neck you can go ahead and cut that off then turn your bird around. If the turkey legs are secured in that plastic holder go ahead and release them.
So that you can easily get into the cavity. So then you're going to reach in and grab any innards or a bag of giblets and some people use these for gravy. But in this recipe we're not going to so you can just discard them and then using. Paper towel will dry off your bird by patting it on all sides and all the crevices lift the legs lift the arms and make sure the whole bird is dry. So that the salt will stick to the skin so you can start by just sprinkling the salt all over the bird. And again you're going to want to get under all the arms and all the crevices in the cavity on top of all the skin turn the bird over just salt the entire thing to make sure that it's coated entirely in salt.
Then you're going to put it in the fridge uncovered for one day.
If you're gonna brine any longer than that you're going to want to cover it with cling film until a day. Before and then you can take off the cling film. And let the skin dry out and this process is going to work as a flavor enhancer. It's also going to allow the meat to hold on to more moisture and dry out the skin. It's a nice and crispy.
If you don't want to start prepping your turkey. For cooking a few hours before you want to serve it but again that's gonna largely depend on the weight of your turkey.
Before you get your turkey out you're going to make a butter mixture. Can put whatever you want. Here you want to start with some softened butter we chose to go with fresh sage chopped garlic dried thyme and dried rosemary. We used a smaller amount of dried thyme and rosemary because those are quite strong. It's gonna be a much more powerful flavor than fresh herbs. Then you're going to mash all that together you can do this day in advance all the way up to just before you prep the turkey. Once that's all ready to go just leave it off to the side and preparation for your turkey.
So to roast your turkey. You can use one of the more traditional roasting pans or use aluminum trays. They're cheap they're easy it's also great. We're actually not going to use and doesn't allow for great air circulation underneath the turkey and leaves for a soggy bottom.
As well as a longer cooking time. So first we're going to cut off the wingtips. You're going to feel for the joint and then cut right in the middle of that. And then put the wingtips into the roasting pan to use for the gravy. And next we want to cut off the wishbone. This is going to make your life a lot easier when you're carving later. And the easiest way to do that is to cut off any extra skin. So you can see the wishbone and you'll see kind of this white outline it looks like a wishbone. Then you're going to get in with a little paring knife and you want to cut the flesh on either side of the bone.
Slowly work your way from the tip all the way down to the two legs. And then you can go in with your finger and kind of tug at it and it should come loose. If it's still pretty stuck to the bones you can also use kitchen shears. To cut it loose and then you can kind of get your hand in there and twist the top off. And once you release the wishbone you can throw that in the roasting tray as well for gravy. Then you can move the roasting tray aside for now to make more room.
And then turn the birds that the legs are facing towards you if your turkey came with one of those plastic holders we want to get rid of that before we cook. It so you can kind of reach in there and give it a good tug and it should come out pretty easily.
So now you want to start loosening the skin from the breast to make room for some butter. You're gonna peel the skin up a little bit and then use your fingers to release the skin from the breast. Can also use a rubber spatula instead of your hands just be careful that you don't pierce the skin. And putting the butter under the skin is going to keep the breast moist as well as keep the skin crispy. It also means we're not going to have to baste the bird because we have the butter. That will again result in crispier skin. You're going to rub the rest of the butter all over the remainder of the bird and similar to the other steps.
If you have any remaining butter you can rub a little bit of that inside all around the cavity as well and instead of stuffing we're going to put just a few aromatics in but not too many. That is going to block the airflow. This will give it a little bit of extra flavor while leaving plenty of room for hot air to flow through during cooking. Then with the rest of the onion you can chop that up throw it in the roasting pan chopped up carrot and a little bit of celery as well for flavor. Then empty a carton of chicken broth into the roasting pan as well.
And then to avoid any mess on the way to the oven you can place your rack on top of the roasting tray just to avoid any dripping in your kitchen. And then any juices that came out of the turkey when you were buttering it can go in as well. This isn't a super traditional gravy but it's going to give you tons of flavor and all the drippings from the cooking of the turkey will drip into the roasting pan and flavor the gravy.
As well want to place the roasting pan on the lowest rack of your oven. Then with the turkey on that baking rack you're going to put that directly on the oven rack above the roasting tray.
We baked our turkey at 325 for about two hours. For is to make sure that the turkey is reading at 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving it. But take it out of the oven when it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit and walls resting the temperature will continue to rise an extra five or so degrees it's a good idea to start checking at about 90 minutes. In the turkeys going to cook a lot quicker in this method because you haven't stuffed the cavity and it's more airflow all around the bird you're gonna rest the bird for about 20 to 30 minutes before you start carving it and juices might still flow out of it a little bit.
So it's a good idea to put this on a baking rack just to catch any of those juices and in the meantime you can finish off the gravy. So then we're going to take out all the larger pieces that we can grab with tongs and then you're going to strain the gravy over a pot.
And then at this point you're going to bring this to a boil and reduce that and let it thicken this stock is good to use as is and it'll soak right into the turkey. But if you want it a little bit thicker ladle a few spoonfuls into a small bowl filled with two tablespoons of flour and really beat it to make sure that there's no lumps. Then you can kind of gradually stir a bit into the gravy and as the gravy boils that's what's going to trigger the flour to thicken the sauce. So wait till it boils first before you decide it to need more to keep it warm. You can put it on a very low heat on the stovetop at this point and just stir it every few minutes.
Put it in a gravy boat at this point you can put it in a thermos. Even to keep it really warm or you can just reheat it right before you serve it.
Giving it a quick whisk to smooth it out again. So first we're going to transfer the turkey onto a large cutting board with a lip to catch any juices to stabilize the bird you can release the legs.
From the and then that will make it a little bit easier to carve it and to do that.
You're going to find where the leg kind of meets the breast cut down that line. And kind of follow the same line and you don't have to cut all the way through at this point you're just kind of going to get it started.
Can use your hands to pull the leg and the thigh off the carcass. At this point the hip joint should pop out pretty easily and to make it even more stable. You can tuck that leg underneath the wing bone to cut off the breast you're going to find the rest bone which is right down the middle and then you're going to cut just on the side. Of that you can go almost straight down kind of following the line of the breastbone.
This should be pretty easy since we did them work earlier of removing the wishbone they're gonna cut down as far as you can. If you need to release it you can cut horizontally right by the wing and release the breast from the carcass.
When you were pulling the legs if you weren't able to release the hip joint from the carcass just go through at this point and cut all the way through that joint and release any extra skin or meat that's still next to the carcass. We'll put this aside and finish cutting it later.
The wings can be a little tricky. To release the wings you're looking to find where the shoulder meets the breast. If you're having a lot of trouble with it you can just actually use your hands to release the joint. Once you kind of pop it out then you can use your neck to finish the job. So if you had any remaining breast meat that you weren't able to get off when you cut the breast off the first time that'll come off when you remove the wing don't throw this away. Be a little bit of meat left on the carcass after dinner you can always get the remaining meat off of there.
Put the breast do is back on your cutting board here is cutting across the grain. And that'll make it more tender and also it's going to give everyone a piece of the crispy skin. If you were to cut slices off the bird and you can set those aside on your platter. And for the leg we're going to cut the drumstick off of the thigh. To do is cut through the joint which should have been pretty easily but it's kind of difficult to find so you can kind of do an exploratory cut. Get through the flesh so you can see where you're going and you can kind of wiggle your knife to find it. If it's really difficult you should probably just pick up your knife and try a different area. Or once you've cut most of the meat you can use your hands to just kind of pop the joint off.
Now you can put the drumstick on the platter and with the thigh we're going to cut the meat off the bone. Turn the thigh over and see where the bone is and then cut on either side. Just cut that into bite-sized pieces. For the wings you're just going to cut through this joint so you're just going to cut off the skin and any meat that's on there. Can use your hands to release the flap on the wing and once you pop the joint you can use your knife to cut through any remaining skin or meat. Cut off any extra breast meat that was left on the wing.
Now that you have all the meat on the platter you can kind of rearrange it make sure that it's nice and presentable.