Two weeks and counting until it is time for The Big Turkey Day and today is all about the bird. Still to come is a delicious sausage & apple dressing and a sweet potato casserole with bacon and a hint of bourbon (yes I said bacon and bourbon).
Check back soon for these recipes
Now let’s talk TURKEY
When we first started talking about this Early Thanksgiving Dinner my brother said he wanted to smoke the turkey. I was thrilled…I couldn’t wait. He had smoked one last year for our family Thanksgiving and it was good, but he said he wanted to make it even better, and that he did.
When all the RSVP’s came back we had 15 people coming, so to ensure we had enough turkey (I love the leftover turkey) I got a big ole’ turkey. It was right around a 20 pound bird. And let me tell you the turkey was so, so good there was not too much left over.
To be safe you want to have between 3/4 – 1 pound per person (or more for leftovers). Also make sure you give it enough time to thaw, we cut it a little close this time, but in the end it all worked out (thank goodness). Next time we will thaw our turkey in an ice water bath in a cooler (still in the plastic wrapping) allowing it to thaw for about 3-4 hours per pound.
Brine the Bird
Over the fast several years we have determined it is ABSOLUTELY necessary that you brine the turkey. Whether you roast it, smoke it or fry it, brining makes a HUGE difference.
For this turkey the brine was pretty simple, salt, pepper, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and garlic. As simple as it sounds it adds a TON of flavor, tenderness and moisture to the turkey as it cooks. Some brines call for some form of citrus or apple cider vinegar…and I love them all. Whatever flavor profile you decide to go with…just make sure you brine.
OK I will get off my soapbox about the brining, lets move on to something even better…BUTTER!
Bring on the BUTTER!
To give this turkey even more flavor and a beautiful crust (I mean look how beautiful that is) my brother used butter. Yep I said butter. Now understand he did not use just butter, he mixed the butter with garlic and herbs. I mean how good does that sound?
After mixing the butter with the garlic and herbs, he rubbed it all over the skin, under the skin on the breasts and inside the cavity really helping to add additional flavor and moistness to every part of the bird.
Not only did it look pretty on the outside but it looked pretty on the inside too.
I mean c’mon just look at that beautiful crust and the tender meat…I wish I had more words to describe how good it is (& some to eat right now).
No Smoker…that’s OK
If you do not have a smoker or do not want to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving, no problem. You can roast the turkey in the oven, as you would a traditional turkey. Just make sure you account for appropriate cooking time.
I like to cook mine at 325 degrees for about 12-15 minutes per pound. Once it reaches 165 degrees make sure to remove at once and let sit for at least 10-20 minutes before carving as this will help to ensure you have a juicy turkey to serve.