Coming from an immigrant family, the custom of roasting a huge, tasteless bird was lost upon my parents for the first decade of being in Canada.
Thus, the responsibility of learning and enabling this proud, time-honored tradition fell upon on my shoulders.
Poultry skills honed through countless residence socials and frat parties, I’ve been told that I can roast a pretty good bird.
Don’t take my word on it though, try the recipe out the next time you need to feed a dozen people.
I promise you won’t be disappointed.
To properly deal with the turkey, we must first come to terms with the fact that turkey is inherently a bland and unpleasant animal.
The meat is incredibly lean, which does not lend itself well to roasting, and an average bird is roughly 15 pounds, which means that if you want a safe internal temperature, the exterior is going to be bone dry.
To top this all off, there is a disproportionately large amount of white meat, which is only made edible through submersion in gravy and cranberry sauce.
But hey, a tradition is a tradition, so we can learn a few tricks to make turkey less gross.
- One turkey, 12 pounds
- One large onion
- One large carrot
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 1 pound salted butter
- 1 pound thickly sliced bacon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper for seasoning and brine
People who are delegated turkey duty during the holidays generally know of a few methods to infuse the meat with some semblance of flavor.
The most popular methods include brining, basting and stuffing butter under the skin.
I do all three, because why not.
This one is easy.
Don’t be a lazy fuck like me and get your turkey a week or so in advance so you can defrost it in time.
Get a big bucket or clean out your sink really well.
Put your defrosted turkey inside the container, remember to take out the giblets and such.
Submerge the turkey and add one cup of salt for every two gallons of water. If you’re bad at eyeballing measurements, just add the salt to the water beforehand.
There you go, leave the bird in the brine for at least 8 hours.
If you want to be extra-fuckin’ fancy, toss in some herbs. You can convince yourself they add to the flavor, but nobody at the table is going to taste a fucking thing under the gravy anyways.
This one gets messier.
Chop your veggies into one inch cubes.
Finely chop the herbs and mix thoroughly with the butter. Once again, if you’ve forgotten to set out the butter at room temperature, cut the brick into thirds and microwave it for 30 seconds.
Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the bird. Fill the cavity with the chopped vegetables, scatter the rest around the bottom of the roasting tray.
Fold the wing tips under the bird and tie the ankle-stumps together. This maintains a more presentable shape for the finished product.
Now for the fun part. Lift up the skin near the bottom part of the breastbone and slowly separate the skin from the meat. There’s an elastic membrane below the skin that is quite durable, so don’t be afraid to really get in there. You want all of the skin intact at the end of the process though.
Once you have a cavity, stuff the space between the skin and the meat with the herb butter. You can press down on top of the skin to smooth butter into the nooks and crannies.
Spread the remaining butter on top of the bird, drizzle olive oil over the top to prevent the skin from burning.
As a final safeguard against a dry turkey breast, lay out your bacon over the breast.
Oven at 360 degrees Celsius. Bake for 13 minutes per pound.
You can baste two to three times during the roasting process. I usually remove the bacon around the hour and a half mark otherwise it gets burnt.
Reserve bacon for gravy making or topping potatoes/side dishes (or just eat it on the spot, you pig).
Due to the vegetables used as a stuffing, you’ll be left with a pan full of buttery roasting juices which is wonderful for gravies, soups, and anything that needs turkey broth.
Now this is painfully easy.
I followed this recipe, so I won’t bother writing all the steps (or any of them).
Have some pictures though.
As a note, if you plan on making your own sauce, make sure you crush all the berries in the pan as they cook down. Unbroken berries are incredibly acidic and can ruin an otherwise pleasant mouthful of turkey.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GRAVY!?
I shit the bed on the gravy this year. Don’t ask.
With the magic of grade-school reading comprehension and basic problem-solving skills, you won’t need to subject your Thanksgiving guests to the awkward dance of having to pretend that your turkey isn’t, in fact, disgusting.