It’s hard to believe, but I just hosted my fourth annual Friendsgiving. Every year I seem to follow a bit of a pattern: create elaborate shopping lists and cooking plans, get a bit behind because life, stress out and cook/clean like a crazy person the weekend of Friendsgiving and then give myself built-in naptime the day of so that I don’t fall asleep when my guests are here.*
Finally, I’ve landed on my go-to turkey recipe, the one I’ll make year after year after year. It combines the herb butter of Year 1 with the dry brine of Year 2, but took a cue from an old Bon Appetit recipe and created an herbed salt mixture for the dry brine.
All the other lessons were the same:
1) Air the turkey out in the fridge so that the skin crisps up
2) Finely minced shallots are key to a good herb butter
3) Always place aromatics (lemon halves, garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh herbs) in the cavity
4) Trussing the legs of the turkey ensures even cooking (but no need to get fancy here, loop your kitchen twine a few times around the legs and then knot it)
5) Roast the turkey on a vegetable trivet for impossibly delicious gravy
6) Flip the turkey halfway through cooking to keep it juicy
7) Rest everything before carving
My turkeys seem to be getting larger year after year after year. 2017’s specimen was 14 pounds (a full three pounds larger than my friend’s one-month-old baby!!) and barely fit in my tiny kitchen’s oven. I don’t think I’d go any larger than this, as we had a considerable amount of trouble flipping it halfway through cooking, and my old uneven oven struggled a bit with cooking this guy through. Everything came out perfectly in the end, but lesson learned for next year: test the internal temperature of your turkey in more than one place, and don’t overreact when you start carving!
However, all 14 pounds disappeared by the end of the night. The meat was incredibly [M-word-that-will-not-be-named] and flavorful (even the breast meat!), the skin was crispy and golden, and everything looked exactly as Norman Rockwell imagined. No buckets full of wet turkey, no stressing out over basting, no complicated steps — this is the ideal Thanksgiving turkey, bronzed and juicy and perfect, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Cheers! I hope your Thanksgiving is delicious!
*This is something I do alarmingly often. My bedtime is 10 p.m. and I generally pass out by midnight, regardless of whether my apartment is empty or not. Four times out of five, if I am having people over, I will fall asleep before they leave. It is weird. Surprisingly, friends keep coming back. …