Growing up in a restaurant, we always had thanksgiving at Lee’s.
It was perfect. We had all the industrial equipment, all the space and the cutlery, not to mention a restaurant grade dishwasher (major key). Access to a deep fryer, and multiple ovens, we pretty much made Thanksgiving our bitch each and every year, and I mean that in the nicest and tastiest way possible.
Fast-forward to me now, trying to cook a seventeen-pound turkey for the first time in my life.
I somewhat knew what I was doing. Having helped to defrost dozens of turkeys, to watching my family cook them in various ways, and of course eating them. I had a pretty good idea of how it was supposed to turn out.
First step, do your research.
I called my mom – naturally. Watched a bunch of YouTube videos, perused the internet for recipes and articles, but ultimately put my faith in AB, Alton Brown.
Brining the turkey seemed to be the only option from all the research that I had done, but I knew that I didn’t want to commit to a wet brine (submerging your raw turkey in a liquid) so I went with the dry option.
If you’re concerned about an exposed raw turkey in your fridge you can throw some plastic wrap over it, but trust me it’ll taste way better if you let it air out!
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re doing this for the first time – don’t panic.
Okay, is your bird frozen or fresh? (fresh meaning you ordered it so it’s freshly killed) if frozen you want to keep it out in the fridge for the amount of time it takes to properly thaw, a good rule of thumb is 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
– click here for the turkey thaw chart –
MAKE SURE YOUR TURKEY ISN’T “PRE-BRINED” ALREADY!
You’ll want to prep the bird by brining it at least 1 day before you plan on cooking it – up to 3.
1 box Bells All Natural Salt Free Seasoning (1 oz)
¼ cup course salt
2 tablespoons fine salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powser
1 teaspoon basil/oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
feel free to use whatever spices you normally use in your cooking – I added ground shiitakes!
Remove the neck and giblet bag from the turkey, and pat the skin dry with paper towels.
Next, put 2-3 teaspoons of the brine into the cavity of the turkey and the rest all over the bird, be sure to build it up on the breast as this is the largest part (and usually the least flavorful and dry). Once that’s done stick it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to cook the bird, take it out and wash the bird off with cold water, and pat the skin dry with paper towels.
You’re going to want to let your turkey warm up a bit before putting in the oven so it can cook a bit more evenly – this takes at least an hour.
In the meantime, let’s prep the cooking rub.
4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter – room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½-1 teaspoon herb of your choice
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon shiitake powder
I usually take the butter out when I take the turkey out, feel free to dump all the dry ingredients on top until the butter is soft enough to combine.
Once the turkey has warmed up, peel away the skin from the meat and put a good amount underneath the skin, before to save about half for the outside of the bird, don’t forget the bottom side!
HOW TO COOK THE TURKEY
- 400 degrees for 30 minutes uncovered
- 350 for nearly the remainder of the time needed with the breasts covered tightly with aluminum foil
- uncover the bird for the last 30-45 minutes to crisp the skin, or broil on low carefully
- Do NOT rely on the pop-up thermometer that comes with the birds, in fact take it out before. The only thing they’re good for is telling you your bird it uncooked or dry.
Once your bird reached 155 you can take it out and cover it loosely with foil, as it will continue to cook once its removed, you can always stick it back in!
Be sure to let your bird rest for an hour before you even start thinking about cutting into it.
Pat yourself on the back and pour a drink, you just killed the kitchen.