March 05, 2015

How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

The turkey is the most important part of any Thanksgiving meal. Do it well, and you'll be a hero. Do it poorly, and you'll be taking the whole family to Applebee's. Here's a simple guide to baking the perfect turkey:

Select an unfrozen turkey from your local grocery store 1-2 days before the big day. I recommend at least 1 pound per guest.

Brine your turkey the day before you plan to cook. Remove the neck & giblets, and rinse the turkey thoroughly. Remember to treat the juices as you would chicken, washing both hands and surfaces while working. Place the turkey in a large container, and fill it with room temperature water. Add sea salt, pepper, chopped garlic, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce. You'll need to refrigerate the turkey as it brines. If space is an issue, use a cooler, and periodically add ice to ensure the water stays cool.

Prep your turkey an hour before you plan to start baking. Drain the brine, but there's no need to rinse the turkey again. Place the turkey in the baking dish while you continue to prep it. I recommend one with a rack like this one, which will keep the turkey elevated from the drippings. In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and worcestershire sauce. Lather the turkey with love, inside and out.

Stuff the turkey with a mix of quartered onions, cubed carrots, halved lemons, and fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, and sage. Then cover the opening with aluminum foil. After stuffing, tie the legs and the wings together to keep them from burning.

Bake your turkey breast down (which will keep the breast meat moist) at 325 degrees for approximately 12 minutes per pound. Twice during the course of baking, you'll want to inject the turkey with the same lather you used above, mixed with half as much chicken broth. At the same time, baste the turkey with its drippings. Use a meat thermometer to get the cook time perfect. Insert it fully into the breast meat. Remove the turkey promptly once it hits 165 degrees. Let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Gravy is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Make your own by slowly stirring flour into the drippings in a sauce pan. Add sea salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!

What you'll need:

  • whole unfrozen turkey
  • worcestershire sauce
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • jar of chopped garlic
  • brown sugar
  • 2-3 whole lemons
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1 carrot
  • fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, and sage
  • chicken broth
  • flour (for gravy)
  • turkey pan with rack
  • turkey baster
  • turkey injector
  • carving knife
  • aluminum foil
  • large container for brining

Simple Sheets
Simple Sheets