Roasting you first turkey is a big deal. Not only do you have to figure out how to cook the thing (to 160 degrees), and make it taste good, you have an audience likely of more than your extended family. It is stressful, it’s kind of gross, and there is always a chance that things won’t go well. But not only did I learn how to cook a turkey, but after the first one, it was so good that the responsibility has been bestowed upon me for more than 10 years now.
Why I took the leap:
Law school semesters are wrapping up around Thanksgiving annually, and I really couldn’t go home even for the day. Most of my classmates were in the same boat. My law school friends were truly like family during my three years at Stetson, so I made an offer – I’ll do the turkey if you all do the sides. Everyone came out of the woodwork. We pushed flimsy card tables together and couldn’t fit everything on the table. Thinking about this time makes my a little misty…I absolutely loved my time in law school and my wonderful friends. We created so many wonderful memories. Lots of nights out, karaoke, costume parties, some relationship that resulted in marriages and we all became lawyers. (I shared a few photos below.)
How It Started:
You may remember a time when Martha Stewart published a real magazine. I actually had a subscription! She published an article Perfect Roast Turkey 101. I went to Publix and nearly died when I saw the price of a turkey. I took it home and took a deep breath and stuck my hand in that sucker to get out all of the parts.
I remember my mom always puts the parts in water and let them simmer. I had no clue why, but I did that and released that I made a stock!
I tried to make gravy and thankfully had the powder as backup. And to be completely honest, I undercooked the turkey. But we ate that thing and enjoyed it and then passed out on the floor (literally) with football on.
Most importantly, it built my confidence. I had a good handle on the basics and was able to modify my process to make it even better.
How It’s Going:
I didn’t have all of the tools I needed at first, but I have invested in good products from Williams-Sonoma. I fully intend to roast turkeys annually for at least another twenty years, so it’s worth the investment to have a good roasting pan.
I always have to refresh my memory each year about the time and the temperature to make sure it is cooked all the way through. But I also want it to be super, duper juicy!
- BRINE my turkey for 24-48 hours.
- Butter the entire outside (and cover in salt and pepper) and
- Put stock, wine or butter in the pan to make sure there is lots of moisture.
The first 30 minutes at 500 degrees with the turkey covered in cheese cloth soaked in wine and butter then basically sealing the entire roasting pan in aluminum foil to lock in all of those juices. It literally falls apart.
I have really worked on my stock and my gravy. I think using the brined parts and the pan dripping are crucial for a gravy that compliments the turkey you actually roasted.
You generally see two flavor families when you look at brines – sweet (apples, rosemary and sweet seasoning) or savory (onions, garlic, salty, and sage). I lean toward the savory because there is a lot of sugar on Thanksgiving!
It’s important too to maintain those flavors from the brine, to the stock to the gravy. I prefer this brine from Williams-Sonoma. I use dry white wine in both the brine and the gravy, so I try to use the same wine (whereas I previously used a red for the gravy.) Martha is again a great resource for gravy or Publix!
I don’t have any photos of my last turkey because honestly, it is devoured in minutes. But it looks good. And it tastes great!
Finally thought: Keep it simply. Salt, pepper, butter, onion, garlic, and a fresh poultry herb bundle are more than enough for a delicious turkey! YOU CAN DO IT!
…but if you can’t, you can order an entire meal from Williams-Sonoma, meal delivery services, or your local grocery store!
Tag me on Insta @mrsmakeitrainka so I can see your turkey!