Thanksgiving is my “chosen family’s” annual get-together. We have settled into a routine where everybody has a typical role in the big feast, and we rotate in and out of the kitchen throughout the day.
I cook the turkey and thought it was time to write down my method. Start with a bird that has not been “enhanced with a solution of…” salt water, vegetable oil, and chemicals. We are lucky to be able to get non-frozen turkeys near us, so that’s what we use.
Prepare a mix of 1 Tbl salt and 2 Tbl poultry seasoning. Prep branches of rosemary by breaking them into 6” Monge single branches. (I grow a rosemary plant each year that pretty much just gets used for the turkey.) Take out any bits and bobs from the cavity. Loosen the skin by running your hand between the skin and meat – you may need a couple strategic slits on the thighs. Then rub the entire surface of the meat (under the skin) with the herb/salt mix and place the rosemary between the meat and skin.
Place a turkey roasting bag in the roasting pan, then wrestle the bird into the bag. Loosely close the bag and poke a couple holes. Bake at 350 for a little less time than they say on the roasting bag instructions. I think a 20-lb bird needs 2-2.5 hours. Critical: determine doneness with a meat thermometer! Breast = 165; thigh = 180
Remove from oven, open bag, and let rest while you make gravy and stuffing using the drippings and juice from the bird. Gravy is just 1/4c turkey fat, 1/4c flour to make roux, then whisk in 1c turkey juice and usually about a cup of water depending on how salty the juices are. It shouldn’t need any other seasoning, because the turkey itself was seasoned. I use a baster to get all the juice/fat into a mason jar. Once it separates, it’s easy to use the baster to get the fat or juice you need just by targeting the right layer.
Chop remnants of veggie tray and nice cubes of turkey. Sauté with onions and fat of choice (drippings from well-seasoned turkey?). Add gravy + water, or make roux and add stock. Simmer on stove 20 mins. Top with – or serve over – mashed potatoes. Or top with cornbread batter (you bet you want sage and rosemary in there) and bake about 30 mins.
Layer turkey with butternut squash slices, onions, and apples. Can top with thinned-down gravy, if desired. Bake 40 mins. Top with stuffing and bake another 20. Serve with cranberry sauce on the side.