Oh man. Never again will I buy an 18-20 pound bird for a table of 9.
I ordered my turkey from Double DD Meats. Hormone free, vegetarian diet bird. Big bird. And best of all: not frozen!
This year, I brined my turkey. for 2 days (!!) – one day works fine though. Take your turkey and put in a huge brine bag- We had Reynold’s brand baking bags. Put the bird in the bag in a big tub or roasting pan- that way it doesn’t leak nasty turkey juice all over the fridge (ew).
Take a big bowl. Throw in a bunch of sea salt (seriously, I mean a bunch). Now add *hot* water and whisk til the salt is completely dissolved.
Take your quartered (eight’d in my case) orange and grapefruit and toss ’em in the brine bag, then add your salt water. Since we brined extra long, we started breast side down on Thursday, and flipped the bird over on Friday for even brinedness.
On the big day (Saturday, in our case), take the bird out of the fridge and plop it in the sink. Not literally- raw turkey/salt slurry is gross. Don’t forget to bleach your sink and counters after this part. Rinse the bird, pat dry and put it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. (on my first “recipe” I just noted boob side up. and yes I’m like a 12 year old often).
Now get ready to get your hands dirty (this is a not for the faint hearted). See where the skin is separated from the breast? Get your hands in there and loosen the skin from the meat. Don’t be shy- get in over the drums too.
For our seasoning this year, I used garlic, sage and butter. Mmmmm butter.
Take a ton of garlic (I chopped about 3 cloves). Smash them with the wide part of your knife, not one of those sissy garlic presses. Hitting and squishing stuff feels good. Chop it all up real fine.
Take some sage. I had to buy a package of this since my garden looks sad after the snow on Friday night. Rinse and chop.
Now get some butter. Mmmmm butter. If you butter isn’t soft already, use the
defrost function on your microwave and soften it up.
Add a handful or two of garlic. Add your chopped sage. Season with salt. Voila! Delicious flavor.
Now don’t be shy, take a handful of your garlic-sage-butter mix and rub it on the breast, under the skin. If you can’t get your hand that far up, then massage it in from above the skin.
Season with salt & pepper across the top for good measure, drizzle on a little olive oil, and put in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
After 30 minutes, baste with butter, turn down the oven to 350, and continue baking.
If the skin starts to get dark too soon, tent it with foil.
Continue to baste every 30 minutes. I added some chicken stock to the roaster to get a little extra liquid in the base and add some flavor (and to make the house smell more). I remember reading somewhere that you bake 15 minutes per pound. This bird was in the oven for about 4.5 hours….. ?
Once the bird is done (you’ll have to look up the temperature specs), bring it out of the oven and let it rest on a big cutting board. And if you’re like me, you’ll rest it in a corner of the low point of the house and get drippings all over the floor.
Notice the color of the skin. I’ve never basted with butter before, so I’ve never had skin like this. It tastes better than any turkey skin you’ve had before.
When you’re ready to carve, make sure to get in there and nibble off skin without getting stapped with a carving knife. Plate and eat. Simple as that.