Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I just love making a turkey. When I first made a Thanksgiving turkey (back in 1994), I was super intimidated. It took me all day, and was a ton of work. Over the years I’ve pieced together several alterations of recipes (including my mom’s), to make a turkey that not only is super moist, but takes about half the time to cook. This year it only took 3 hours to cook a 15 lb. bird. We were so busy having it for dinner, that I neglected to get a good photo of the final product, sorry.
- 15 lb. fresh turkey (thawed)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fresh sage (chopped)
- Microplaned orange zest from one large orange, or 4 Mandarins
- Fresh ground pepper
24 hours before your dinner, remove the turkey from its packaging and pat dry with paper towels. I discard the neck and the giblets, but you might save them for other uses. Place the turkey on a platter.
Combine the spices, and rub under the skin of the turkey breast and legs. Truss the turkey as you normally would. Here’s a link to a video if you’re unfamiliar with the process.
Place the turkey, uncovered on the platter, in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Place your oven rack in the bottom rung, and heat to 400°. Begin your turkey breast side down, uncovered, in a roasting pan V-Rack for 1 hour.
Using silicone oven mitts, turn the turkey over breast side up. Lower the heat to 325°, and continue cooking until a meat thermometer registers 165° in the thigh (without touching the bone), approximately 2 more hours.
I baste the turkey with melted butter (and eventually drippings) every 30 minutes until the turkey is done. Once the skin has become the shade you prefer, cover loosely with aluminium foil.
When the turkey is resting, you can make the gravy, and warm up or cook the other dishes.
- Turkey is an inexpensive protein, so I like to buy 2 around Thanksgiving and freeze one.
- I use a Food Saver vacuum sealer, and freeze the leftover meat in 1 lb. portions. It’s great for soups, pot pies, and casseroles for the next year.
- When I first started cooking, the advice was to wash your turkey. The powers that be have since retracted that. It turns out that you are spraying your whole kitchen with nasty bugs when you do that.
- Another thing I don’t do anymore, is to stuff the bird. I’ve found that I can make a flavorful and moist stuffing baked in its own casserole dish.