Wednesday, December 7, 2011

First Attempt and Success at Thanksgiving Turkey!

So this was my very first attempt since I left for college at a Thanksgiving turkey. Freshman year, I went back home to WA. Sophomore year, I went to my boyfriend's family's house in Chicago. Last year, I made turkey legs and breast fillets in the boy's oven (his apartment's oven is tinyyy). And this year, I got the wonderful opportunity to go to my good friend Tony's apartment, which has a full-size oven. :) More info to come when I create my Thanksgiving blog post! All in all, it was a great experience, and the turkey turned out juicy and tender with crispy skin and lots of flavor! It was a great hit (not as much as the pumpkin pie, though, which has a recipe to come later)! My boyfriend implored me to stick some butter inside the turkey with the stuffing, and after a lot of refusing in an attempt to be healthier, I finally gave in...and I'm happy I did!
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey

-20lb. turkey
-1 heaping tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
-1/2 tbsp. sage
-3/4 tbsp. thyme
-1/2 tbsp. onion powder
-1/2 tbsp. fresh-cracked black pepper
-1 tsp. onion powder
-1 stick unsalted, sweet cream butter (yep, no margarine this time!)

-premade stuffing (See my Whole Wheat and Cornbread Stuffing recipe)
-3 carrots, roughly chopped
-1 medium onion, roughly chopped
-4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

The naked beauty! - Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
1. Remove turkey from packaging and drain well (my turkey came in brine...try to get a low-sodium solution or none at all and brine yourself if you can!). Place turkey in large roasting pan, pot, or broiler pan. Combine all herbs and spices and rub all over turkey. Feel free to make more rub if desired. This seemed to do the trick for me. Cover in tin foil and pop in the refrigerator. Marinate until ready to cook (about an hour and fifteen minutes in my case--I'm sure the longer, the better!).
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove turkey from fridge. Pour 1/2 stick of the melted butter over the turkey.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
3. Place a large handful of carrots, onion, and celery inside the turkey cavity, and use the rest to cover the pan and surround the turkey. The pan veggies will not be for eating, but instead to help flavor the grease a bit as they sweat out.
4. Stuff the turkey with homemade stuffing until full.
5. Shove the other 1/2 stick of butter way inside the turkey cavity, as far toward the back as possible.
All stuffed! - Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
6. Place in over for 3-4 1/2 hours or until done. My turkey came with one of those pop-up thermometers, and it was perfectly accurate! If you are unsure, check with a meat thermometer (being a poor student, I didn't have one), and the internal temperature of the thigh meat should be 180 degrees F.
7. Remove turkey from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes. This will help make your turkey easy to carve and remain super juicy (see the leg meat in the picture?)! Mine was overflowing! This also allows you to finish up last-minute potato, green bean, and stuffing work. :)
Crispy skin and juicy meat - Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
8. Carve!
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters

Happy happy happy Thanksgiving eating!

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