You might be laughing right now, thinking "Who is this woman and why does she think she knows how to make the perfect turkey?".
Years and years of trial and error my friends!
I started cooking turkey for the family wayyyyyy back before I had kids. My grandfather and grandmother were the ones that ran the show over the holidays, and I loved hanging out with them in the kitchen while they cooked.
Grandpa made the stuffing, my Grandma always baked bread (aaahhh I can still smell it!), and pecan pie.
I remember one year my Grandmother was making her famous pecan pie. We were all hanging around the kitchen, drooling, and she grabbed the pie out of the oven to set it on a rack to cool. For some reason the oven mitt didn't protect her from the heat of the pie tin, and down the pie went onto the floor.
It was like slow motion. Pie tin tips, pie begins to slip, several of us jump for it.
Like we are going to be able to bare hand catch a blazingly hot pie right?
Nope, it hit the floor.
My grandmother was so upset.
Meanwhile the rest of us went about the task of gabbing the tools that would allow us to still enjoy the scrumptious dessert.
We grabbed a spatula and a baking sheet. I carefully used the spatula to lift the pie up leaving just a thin amount on the floor, and slid it on to the baking sheet.
Hey, we used to joke that my Grandma kept her floors so clean that you could eat off of them!! We were not losing this pie!!
That year we joked about how wonderful my Grandma's Upside Down Pecan Pie was and that she needed to share the recipe with everyone.
I think I got hit in the head with a stray wooden spoon!
I love every single one of those memories,
along with the little tips and tricks that they taught me.
I have of course, through the years, tweaked things here and there. But the basics still remain the same. Sometimes simple is just the way to go right?
Here is our gorgeous bird, out of the brine, and all seasoned up.
Now for, what might seem like, a very strange step to the process.
Cover your bird with a layer of cheesecloth, ad tuck her in nice. The result of this?
A gorgeous, evenly browned, and crispy skin every single time!!
The Perfect Roast Turkey (Brine Recipe Included)
For the brine:
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 cup sea salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 large stems Fresh rosemary
- 8 sprigs Fresh thyme
- 10 Fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 gallon ice water
- 14 pound turkey, thawed
To roast the turkey:
- Cheesecloth, cut to fit your turkey
- Cracked black pepper
- Poultry seasoning
- 1 head garlic, smashed
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 or 3 lemons, pierced with a fork or knife
- Several stems of thyme and rosemary (some for the cooking and some for garnish after)
- Several leaves of sage (some for cooking and some for garnish)
- several quarts of turkey or chicken stock (I used 3)
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, sugar, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, sage, and peppercorns in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature.
Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the large stock pot. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed and reserved) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove the bird and discard the brine. Pat the bird dry. Season with cracked black pepper and poultry seasoning, rubbing the skin to make sure the seasoning is even all over the bird. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Place a rack in your roasting pan, or you can lay carrots and celery stalks on the bottom of the roaster to left the turkey up from the bottom.
Carefully place the turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. Place the garlic, onion, lemons, and herbs inside the cavity. Truss the turkey if it does not come that way.
Loosely cover the turkey with the cheese cloth, tucking the edges into the pan.
Heat at least 2 quarts of the stock in a medium pot, over medium heat. Add the innards (neck, liver, heart, etc) and keep the stock just below a simmer. You will use this to baste your turkey, and to make your gravy if wanted.
Place the turkey in the oven with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
Cook the turkey, basting every after 30 minutes for the first hour, then every hour until it has reached a minimum of 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to set for 30 minutes before carving. The temperature will rise as it rests.
Using the turkey baster, carefully squirt the warmed stock over the bird as you slowly peel the cheesecloth off. Be patient, don't tear the skin.
The result will be a brown, crispy gorgeous skin!
Remove the herbs and replace with fresh for garnish
Carve, serve, and ENJOY!!!