Thanksgiving Juicy Herbed Turkey

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DSC_0530It looks pale on the side but the bottom was brown and it was perfectly cooked yet juicy!

Our Thanksgiving can never be without a nice juicy and tender turkey. A week before Thanksgiving day my husband is so happy to go shopping to buy Turkey because he loves the holidays season so much. It reminds him of his childhood and it’s the same warm cozy feeling I have from November to December. Who doesn’t love that warm feeling where people gather and make merry over a beautiful dinner party?

Turkey is the only meat we eat aside from fish because Turkey is a very lean bird. It’s like the perfect meat! How lean and clean this bird is, it beats all types of meat. I confess though that it is not easy to prepare a perfectly tender and tasty turkey. Turkey is so big and even the smallest turkey available in stores are still too big. So, how do you get the taste of your spices to penetrate inside the meat? The answer is, you cannot. Unless you have a Vacuum Tumble Marinator that marinates the turkey. I’ve seen that machine before but I didn’t have the means to buy it and when I do I forget about it. They also haven’t invented something that would fit a turkey inside. If you have that, especially the size that can accommodate a 13-15 lbs turkey, then your turkey will be perfectly tender and tasty throughout. I tried many recipes promising to make the entire turkey meat, especially the breast, absorb the herb and spices including marinating for 24 hours, submerging the turkey in ice-cold water, basting the turkey over and over again, putting the turkey in a bag and filling up the bag with wine, herbs, and spices, and many other methods. It just didn’t do it. In order for the taste to penetrate throughout the turkey’s pores must open up and only a vacuum marinator can do that.

Since I cook many dishes during Thanksgiving I cannot focus all my attention on the turkey. If you buy some ingredients like a store-bought pie crust or ready to eat salad and guacamole,  then it may save you time then you can divert your full attention to the turkey. However, I can be a masochist because I make everything from scratch. Even a guacamole takes a little time to make plus washing dishes and setting the timer and cooking meals in between while the Thanksgiving food is being prepared. I don’t know how my husband can sometimes still complain that I don’t cook enough. 😀 He has a voracious appetite for food and has very little self-discipline with his eating habits. So yes, I need to pay attention or he will eat anything available. Now that we are having a baby, the more that I have to be careful with our food, as much as learn to be efficient in the kitchen. I cannot cook for 6 hours a day anymore. My baby will need more of my time and attention. This is why I came up with this turkey recipe. It saved me a vast amount of time and I finished another dish before 5:30 PM just in time for a nice six o’clock Thanksgiving dinner.

DSC_0523This is how she looked when she came out 😉

DSC_0525Just another view of this holiday beauty

The key technique to make an evenly cooked turkey is to put in at most 5 cups of water under the turkey rack so that the steam cooks the underside of the turkey evenly. I learned this from a Bolivian friend of mine who is an ingenious mom! She is awesome int he kitchen. She even made her own concoction to cure her child of asthma. I will share the concoction recipe next time!

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DSC_0531My husband is a big man so the Turkey looks like a chicken from this angle

DSC_0541DSC_0536Carving time! Look at how this bird is so lean… The skin is crispy and the flavors are exploding under the skin…

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Wait, I forgot to mention I mixed all the techniques I learned from the previous years of making Thanksgiving turkey. The second important technique is to mix herbs and room temperature butter and slather it under the skin of this beautiful bird. I got the idea from Chef Gordon Ramsay. I used sage, rosemary, and butter as the main herbs. It makes the turkey smelling wonderful and the skin super crispy. Everything else is listed below and is very much customizable. If you have flavors that you love you can add them to the mixture.

Third and the most important tip, cover the turkey with an olive oil mixture of salt and pepper and give the turkey some massage. Fourth, baste the turkey every 30 minutes if you can. I use a suction tool or a turkey baster to pour the drippings over the turkey. It’s cheap, I found it in Marshall’s for 5 bucks.

Finally, don’t forget to put 1/4 cup of butter inside the cavity before you stick in all the other ingredients like orange slices, apple, onion, garlic, thyme, sage, and rosemary sprigs. The butter helps the flavor to be distributed evenly from the inside. All of these steps must be done while the turkey is already inside the turkey bag so that the spices and salt do not go anywhere else but into the turkey. It is a heat-resistant plastic you can buy from Safeway. I got the very last one on the shelf this year. I wish I could use something else but aluminum is worse. It is neurotoxin found to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurologic illnesses.

Wait, I haven’t told you if the turkey turned out tasty like having a vacuum marinator, yes and no, the turkey was really tasty except for the deeper part of the breast. The breast meat is so thick the flavor can only penetrate so much. The final verdict from my husband? It’s the best turkey I have ever made! Well, he always says that for every food I make. 😀 What about the gravy? I used the turkey drippings, removed the floating fats, and added 1/3 cup flour, 1 tsp of pepper and stirred until it reached my desired consistency. Ingredients are written below.

I have a lot of leftover turkey in the fridge to this day and it still smells and tastes amazing! I will turn some of them into turkey sandwich spread or soup ingredients. I hope this recipe serves its purpose, you busy mommas! Email me, DM me on Instagram, or leave me a comment below if you need to ask about this recipe. Suggestions are welcome! Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

NOTE: All the ingredients listed below would not fit in the turkey cavity so you can put all the leftovers in the bag for marinade. Also, you don’t need to use a thermometer for this recipe. It’s your choice if you think it is vital to use it. I never used a thermometer and every turkey I make is tender and juicy. No marinating necessary either. It’s really a waste of time without the Vacuum Tumble Marinator.

Tools

turkey baster
turkey bag
turkey rack and pan (size of your choice)

Ingredients

Turkey Stuffing

1 14 lbs turkey
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon quartered (rind set aside)
1/2 onion (other 1/2 for the marinade, shallots are great too!)
1 gala apple
5 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 tsp thyme
1 whole bunch rosemary (8 of 12 sprigs)
1 whole bunch sage (8 of 12 sprigs)
1/4 cup soft butter

Skin Stuffing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1/3 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 rosemary sprig, chopped
1 sage sprig, chopped
1 tsp parsley (optional)
lemon rind, from 1 lemon
2-3 organic carrots, sliced 2 inches lengthwise
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt, plus extra
1 tsp ground black pepper, plus extra

Marinade Recipe (use leftovers from above)
3 rosemary sprigs
3 sage sprigs
2 lemon, wedges
3 orange, wedges
1/2 onion sliced
1/4 cup red wine

Turkey Gravy
3 cups turkey drippings
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp pepper or more

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celcius
2. Fill the turkey pan with 4-5 cups of water. It should not reach half the height of the pan. This will cook the turkey evenly on both sides. Then, set the rack on top of the watered pan.
3. Empty the turkey cavity. Put some olive oil in your hands and massage the turkey all over. The olive oil will keep the spices sticking onto the skin of the turkey. Drizzle the turkey with salt and pepper all over.
4. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients of the “Skin Stuffing” recipe.
5. With the turkey’s neck cavity facing you, reach out inside the skin of the turkey carefully pushing in to make some space for the “Skin Stuffing” recipe. Watch Gordon Ramsay’s technique for an easier and more precise guide. Drizzle the turkey with a little bit of salt and pepper again then put the turkey inside the turkey bag breast facing up. Do not close the bag just yet.
6. Put the butter inside the cavity first then all the “Turkey Stuffing” ingredients inside the turkey’s chest cavity. All the ingredients that would not fit inside the cavity become part of the “Marinade Recipe”, so put them on the sides of the turkey inside the bag including the red wine. You can add a 1/2 cup water if your turkey is above 15lbs.
7. Close the bag with the film included in the turkey bag carton box and put 5 slits on top of the turkey bag so that the plastic would not explode. And off the turkey goes into the oven for 45 minutes. Baste the turkey and set your timer for 1 hour. Take the turkey out and slice through the crevice between the thigh and the meat connected to the turkey’s body (so it’s not obvious later on for presentation purposes and if you do not have a thermometer) to check if it’s still pink and raw. If it is, baste the turkey once more and set the timer for another 30 minutes. After this, the skin will be brown and crispy like in the pictures. Check the part where you made a cut for a very light pink color. You will see that is cooked through and very juicy. Take the turkey out and let it rest for as much time as it took to cook.
8. For the gravy, take 3 cups of drippings and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. remove the floating fats. In a saucepan put 3 cups of turkey drippings, drizzle with pepper, and add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour over medium-high heat.  Stir until you reach the consistency you prefer. Pour into a gravy pitcher or a bowl. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy. Enjoy!

 

 

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spiceverse

Hello! My name is Altha. I love to cook and experiment with naturally sourced ingredients. I believe in the power of naturally grown food to heal the body. I consider myself a food philosopher. :D I studied Philosophy and I have a Master's in International Relations. However, my dream is to have a Ph.D. in Culinary Arts! I learned two important things about food, 1) it brings people together, 2) healthy food means a healthy mind and a healthy body. When I learned those two things, I promised myself to keep on cooking, especially for my husband.

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