This post comes courtesy of Matt Weber, blogger at Thyme in Our Kitchen.
I wasn’t even going to cook a turkey this Thanksgiving. As a food blogger, our family had a “pre-” Thanksgiving in early November so that I could test out some recipes and get photos before I needed to post on my blog. I thought for the actual holiday we’d do some kind of beef roast or maybe even just a ham, especially since we were having the holiday away from our own home this year.
Then it happened. I won a beautiful Willie Bird turkey from Williams-Sonoma. This guy came all the way from sunny California to the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Probably not the fate he hoped for, so I knew I had to do it justice.
Last year I did some pretty extensive research and came up with a method for cooking my turkey that combined the efforts of Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown. The end result is a juicy, flavorful turkey that also creates some of the most flavorful gravy I’ve ever had.
It starts with an overnight salt bath to make sure he retains as much moisture as possible. With a standard frozen turkey, I’ll usually brine for at least 12 hours, but with this fresh turkey, I let him sit for just about eight hours.
My rub is a fragrant combination of sage, roasted jalapenos, fresh orange juice that’s been cooked down to a thick syrup, and of course, butter. The rub is smeared both under the skin and on top. Cheesecloth is then soaked in the remaining melted mixture and draped over the bird. This help keeps the flavors right on the skin as it cooks and creates a magnificent crispy skin.
Want to make the breast meat even more amazing? Instead of slicing off pieces of the breast this time like most people do, cut off the entire breast piece of meat and then cut it into thick slices across the grain. The texture is better this way and it makes for a beautiful presentation.
The juices in the bottom of the pan make an excellent gravy. The jalapenos in the rub provide the perfect amount of heat, and there’s no need to add any additional spices. Simply thin it down with some stock and thicken it with some cornstarch mixed into a small amount of milk.
Last of all, no matter what you do, don’t throw away the bones! You can make a wonderful turkey stock by cooking the bones together with vegetables and herbs in a large pot of water and then freezing or canning it for use throughout the year. For the most intense turkey flavor, roast the turkey bones under the broiler for 20 minutes before adding to the water.
For the full recipes and instructions, please visit Thyme In Our Kitchen.
About the author: Matt Weber is the author and photographer for Thyme In Our Kitchen, a food blog chronicling his adventures in cooking and eating gourmet food. He also participates in the newly formed food blogger group Virtual Potluck. Originally from Seattle Washington, Matt has also lived in areas across the country including Rexburg Idaho, Mandeville Louisiana and now resides just outside of Minneapolis Minnesota. You can follow along with Matt on twitter @thymeinrkitchen or www.facebook.com/thymeinourkitchen