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The Big Turkey

Photo by Gary Gellman – Gellman Images

I found that a fresh turkey is my favorite but the old Butterball works ok too. Rinse the turkey well and make sure that you remove the gizzards and neck, dry the cavity and bird.

I make a butter “paste” out of 2 sticks of room temperature softened butter, mixed with a teaspoon each of rosemary, sage salt, pepper and thyme. Mix butter and spices with a fork make sure that all spices are well blended. Spread the mixture with a soft spatula underneath the skin of the turkey breast; be careful not to tear the skin. Leave some of the mixture for the outside of turkey smear generously over the skin.

If you are not stuffing the turkey I salt the inside of the cavity with kosher salt and add coarsely chopped onion two celery stalks and a sprig of rosemary and leave that in the bird while it cooks.

Cooking the big bird: I use a wire v-rack with about 1 cup of chicken broth in the pan to catch the drippings. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees. In the last hour I crank the oven to 450 and let it get nice and crisp, make sure you baste well before this process. Once cooked remove the turkey and let stand for at least 1 hour, longer if the turkey is a big one.

Slicing the turkey is also an art. I remove the drumsticks with a sharp knife cut to the joint, and then remove the thighs with a cut to the joint as well. Once that is removed I remove the breast on both sides of the bird by carving as close to the breast bone as possible and removing the breast in whole. It makes it easier for slicing, also looks better on the plate too.

After you remove the breast I turn the turkey over on the back and remove the dark meat. I try and remove all the meat from the bone, rather than storing the left over meat in the refrigerator while it is still on the carcass. I found that storing the left over meat in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil then inside a freezer bag and into the refrigerator makes for a more moist turkey sandwich later that night!


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