Call me crazy, but one year, I tried to do something new for Thanksgiving. I wanted to honor my hunting brothers by featuring their “wild game.” Suffice it to say that it is now a family memory and they never let me live it down! I should have known not to mess with tradition. People want turkey on Thanksgiving and ham on Easter. There is no way around it! (If you are thinking of getting “creative” this year…don’t do it. Stay with tradition. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) 😉
I ordered a nice fresh turkey from Whole Foods. If I am going to make the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey, I’m a big believer in starting with the best quality turkey I can find. The turkey is the centerpiece, so you want to make sure you don’t disappoint!
FAIL-PROOF PERFECT THANKSGIVING TURKEY:
One of the most challenging things to do before Thanksgiving day is to make sure your turkey is sufficiently unthawed. I try never to purchase a frozen turkey for that reason. Just keep the turkey in the refrigerator until Thursday morning. Take out of the refrigerator 1 1/2 hours before cooking. Pull out the giblets and save to make the gravy. Rinse, pat dry and salt generously inside and out of the bird. Preheat oven to 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, tuck the turkey wings underneath, place the turkey on a rack in a wide roasting pan, stuff a bit of the stuffing inside the cavity, placing the legs back into the wire contraption on the roasting pan. Make sure you bind the bird tightly to ensure it all cooks at the same speed. Once finished with arranging, add 2 cups of water to the pan and cover the bird with a cheesecloth.
To prepare the cheesecloth: Fold cheesecloth large enough so that it covers the whole bird and is four layers thick. Melt 1/2 c of butter in a saucepan, add 1/2 c of OJ, add finely diced thyme, sage and a garlic clove. Let that simmer for a bit, then place the cheesecloth into the butter mixture. Press the cheesecloth down and carefully swirl around so it is completely soaked. When removing, gently squeeze out excess drips with a pair of tongs and lay over the entire surface of the turkey. Pour the remaining butter sauce over the cheesecloth.
Place the turkey in the preheated oven and set the timer for three and a half hours. Do not open the oven for two hours. Then, begin basting the turkey, over the cheesecloth, and put the stuffing that was not located in the bird into the oven.
With 30 minutes left, remove the cheesecloth, baste the turkey on the skin and let it cook for another 30 minutes.
Remove the turkey & revel in the perfection! If you instagram it, make sure you add the hashtag #familiesthatstick so we can celebrate with you! Baste the finished turkey over and over and over, giving it a beautiful glow. Cover the turkey with a couple sheets of tinfoil and let it sit in the pan for about 60 minutes.
Get whipping up your world-famous gravy:
This is a simple and classic family-favorite.
- We poured off the juices from the roasting pan and put the pan back on the stove turning the burners up to medium-high.
- Finely dice your giblet meat and sauté.
- Swirl in a cup of white wine (water would also work, but why?!)
- Scrape up the tasty bits with a whisk.
- Melt a stick of butter in the roasting pan, while quickly whipping up a roux in a separate cup by combining flour and water, removing all lumps.
- Add the roux to the butter mixture in the hot roasting pan.
- Add back some of the liquid from the pan drippings, whisking constantly, then adding water and seasoning to taste.
- At this point, I would start throwing in orange juice and garlic and herbs. But, we won’t on Thanksgiving. Mom’s gravy is perfect just the way it is.
Once the gravy is done, make sure to present the bird! Carrying the magnificent turkey to the beautiful Thanksgiving table is a moment your family will not soon forget. Take a moment to be thankful for each other and to your Savior for another year together. Enjoy your Thanksgiving! I hope you share it with people you love.
Want more Thanksgiving reading? Check out these great posts!
- Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Rosemary-Orange Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing
- This Thanksgiving…TALK – great resources!
Tip Jar: Laying the moistened cheese cloth over the turkey allows all of that juicy goodness to drip down flavoring the skin and the turkey. It also keeps the breast meat from cooking too fast. Letting the turkey rest for an entire hour allows the juices to redistribute, so it is really moist. It also stays surprisingly hot for that hour.
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