I asked my dad if he wanted to fly in for Thanksgiving this year instead of me flying back home to the Midwest when I realized I was low on cash. One of my dogs was diagnosed with diabetes in June, and it’s been a bit crippling to my pocket the last few months.
Since moving to the West Coast, my Thanksgivings haven’t been all that typical. One year I had dinner with my friend and her parents. Another year I went out to eat with a coworker at an expensive seafood restaurant overlooking the ocean. Last year was spent at my then boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving. And on the really good years I was with my dad and/or my sister and I was lucky enough to be able to cook Thanksgiving-like foods. And even though I’ve had a few good years making Thanksgiving-like foods, I have only twice roasted a turkey. Can you believe that?
So this year when my dad asked what I wanted to do for Thanksgiving, I told him I definitely wanted to make the traditional spread. Having made only cornbread the year prior (along with non-Thanksgiving foods on Friendsgiving), I was ready to go all out.
I had found a few turkey recipes that I’d amassed over the years but the recipe my dad suggested was one I found in the November 2016 Food Network Magazine Holiday Best section. The recipe is courtesy of Jeff Mauro.
The recipe online differs slightly from the one I have in print. It says to start the turkey three days prior, while the print version says two. I think the on-line version is correct. I remember remarking to my dad as I was wrapping the turkey in Saran-wrap two days before Thanksgiving that the recipe didn’t make sense. As such, I was afraid I had begun preparing the turkey too late and that my turkey would turn out to be crap.
Despite getting a late start on the turkey prep and thinking that I had overcooked the turkey (the temp read 180 when I checked the turkey prior to the two-hour mark), the turkey came out totally perfect. Crispy skin. Juicy meat. The meat was actually infused with flavor from the rub. I haven’t had roast turkey in a while, but this turkey seemed like the best turkey I’ve ever had. Jeff Mauro describes it as, “The best darned thing I’ve ever made,” and I would have to agree.
- One 12- to 14-lb fresh Amish turkey (I used a Kosher turkey; I don’t believe Amish turkeys exist in the great State of California)
- 3 T. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. granulated garlic (I actually used minced garlic from a jar but I’m pretty sure this is intended to be either garlic salt or garlic powder)
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 6 fresh bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed
- 4 T. butter, melted
- Three days before cooking the turkey, rinse, clean and dry the turkey thoroughly.
- In a food processor, pulse the salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, thyme, orange zest and rosemary until still coarse but uniform, about 10 times. Rub the inside of the turkey with the salt mix. Then carefully slip your fingers under the breast skin and rub a liberal amount UNDER the skin. Flip the turkey on its side and sprinkle more of the salt mixture on the thigh, wing and leg. Repeat on other side.
- Place the bird in a large zipper-top bag or brining bag. (If neither is available, cover in plastic wrap.) Place the bird on a wire rack on a sheet pan breast-side up, and place in the fridge away from any raw food (on a lower shelf). Leave in the fridge for 3 days.
- On the night before cooking, remove the turkey from the fridge and take it out of the plastic. The skin should be dry and the salt should be dissolved. If any large patches of moisture are present, wipe with paper towels. (I never did this step.) Place back in the fridge, uncovered, for another 8 hours to dry out.
- On the day of, take the turkey out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Fit a roasting pan with a wire v-rack.
- Put the turkey in the roasting pan and brush with the melted butter. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and roast, basting occasionally, until the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about another 2 hours. Let the turkey rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving.
I started this effort Tuesday night and unwrapped the Turkey on the morning of, intending to make the turkey for dinner (by about 6 or 7 pm). This means that the Turkey was wrapped in plastic wrap for less than 48 hours. Despite this glitch, the Turkey turned out amazing. Which makes me wonder what it would have tasted like had I started the turkey a day or so earlier. Regardless, I would recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a roast Turkey on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year.