• Tommy Centola

Try something different for the star of Thanksgiving

It’s time to start thinking about the big Thanksgiving meal. Looking over my previous Thanksgiving articles, I have shared with you side dishes and desserts. I have not shared with you my version of the star of the dinner table, the turkey. Time to remedy that.

I have seen turkeys prepared many ways. I know of some who fry their turkeys. I have seen them cooked breast side down, so the turkey can baste its self. Some inject the turkey with various marinades. My roasting method is pretty basic. In order to produce a moist turkey, I place it in a brine 24 hours before the cooking begins. Here is my turkey cooking method.

A brine, in my opinion is the best way to keep a turkey moist. It also adds some flavor to your finished protein. This brine is great with poultry as well as pork.Once you start using a brine, you will never go back to not using one.

Brine

12 cups of cold water

1 cup kosher salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sage

2 tablespoons thyme

2 tablespoons rosemary

1 tablespoon black pepper

4 cups ice

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a simmering boil. Add salt and sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off heat. Stir in remaining 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper and ice. The brine is ready to use.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity. Rinse the outside and inside of a thawed turkey. Using paper towels, pat turkey dry. Completely submerge the turkey in brine in a large bucket and cover with a lid. Allow turkey to marinate for 12 hours for a small turkey (8-10 pounds) and up to a full day for a bigger bird. Rinse turkey and pat dry before preparing for roasting.

Here is the way that I roast my turkey. My secret is what I use to cook it in. My late sister-in-law, Pam, gave me a large electric roaster as a wedding shower gift. She wanted me to have something that I would use. I would not think of cooking a turkey any other way.

Roast Turkey

10-14 pound brined turkey

2-3 stalks celery, cut into thirds

1 large onion, peeled and cut in half

4 cloves garlic

Creole seasoning

4 tablespoons butter, divided

Remove turkey from brine and allow it to come to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven or roaster to 375℉.

Place celery, onion and garlic in turkey cavity. Sprinkle inside and outside of turkey with Creole seasoning. Place turkey breast side up on a baking rack in a roasting pan or roaster. Place a tablespoon of butter where the thigh meets the body and where the wing meets the breast. Roast the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, basting occasionally. Add the giblets and neck halfway through the cooking time. A thermometer should register 165℉ in the thickest part of the thigh when the turkey is done. All juices will run clear when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven or roaster and allow to rest 15-20 minutes before carving. Note: Don’t depend on the included pop-up thermometer. zYpur breast will overcook and be dry.

As much as I like to experiment with different flavor combinations, I think the Thanksgiving turkey is best simply prepared. Any experimenting I do for this holiday shows up in the appetizers, sides or desserts. No matter what you serve on your table, the best part of the holidays is sharing a wonderful meal with family and close friends. I am hoping this year that everyone is able to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.


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