Monday, November 18

Turkey Tasting

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Tried-and-true recipes to complete your Thanksgiving meal masterpiece

You’ll hear dozens of ways to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey. Here are a few of the best. Whether you are serving a whole bird or just the breast, these recipes will have your guests gobbling it up.

Oven-Roasted Turkey with Herbs

Yield: 12 to 14 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh sage
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Instructions:
  1. Lightly grease the rack of a roasting pan and fill the bottom with 3 cups water. Place the turkey on the rack and rub all over with the salt and pepper. Slip your fingers between the skin of the turkey and the meat, being careful not to rip the skin. Work the softened butter under the skin of the breast meat.
  2. Place the herb sprigs in the cavity of the bird and truss. Insert a thermometer in the thigh just above the drumstick, making sure it doesn’t touch the bone. Place in the oven so you can easily see the thermometer through the oven window. Roast 3½ to 4 hours or until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing. Cool completely before packaging for the refrigerator or freezer.

Fried Turkey

Yield: 12 to 15 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 (12- to 15-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed
  • 4 to 5 gallons vegetable oil
Instructions:
  1. Place the turkey on the fryer rod and place in the sink. Let stand 20 minutes to allow all the liquid to drain from the turkey cavity.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil in a deep turkey fryer to the fill line or to 12 inches from the top. Bring the oil to 375 degrees. Carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil with the rod attachment. Fry 1 hour or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees when inserted in the breast. Let stand at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

No Frills Roasted Turkey

Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 (10- to 12-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Drain the turkey well.
  2. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck skin in place. Truss, if desired, by tying the legs together with kitchen twine to maintain a compact shape.
  3. Place the turkey breast-side-up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, next to the body. Rub the outside of the turkey with vegetable oil and sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven so the thermometer face can be seen from the oven window. Roast 3 hours or until the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees. Cover with aluminum foil and let stand 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Brined and Bagged Turkey

Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1½ gallons water
  • 1½ cups salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups liquid smoke
  • 1 (10- to 12-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in large pieces
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Combine the water, salt, sugar and liquid smoke in a container large enough to hold the brine ingredients and turkey (a food-grade bucket or clean cooker works great). Mix to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the turkey. Cover and allow to brine for 24 hours. Place in the refrigerator if you have room. If not, place a heavy-duty zip-top bag filled with ice on top of the turkey. Check regularly and add ice to make sure the turkey stays cold. Remove turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Place in an oven bag on a rack in a roasting pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pierce the lemon several times with an ice pick and insert in the cavity of the turkey along with the celery stalks. Drizzle the turkey with the melted butter. In a small bowl, combine the flour, paprika, oregano, thyme, onion powder and pepper. Sprinkle over the turkey and seal the oven bag. With a knife, cut a few slits in the top of the bag and insert a leave-in thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
  3. Place in the oven so the thermometer face can be seen from the oven window. Roast for 3 hours or until the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Grilled Turkey

Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 (10-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the grill to medium heat (325 to 350 degrees). Spray the grill rack with nonstick cooking spray made for high heat. Brush the turkey with oil and place on the rack. Cover and cook for 3 hours, maintaining the grill at a constant temperature of 325 to 350 degrees. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 180 degrees in the thigh. Remove from the grill and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Notes:
  1. Note: If using a sauce, brush it on the turkey during the last half hour of cooking.

Citrus Turkey

Yield: 20 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 (16-pound) turkey
  • 2 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine or low-salt chicken stock
  • 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
Instructions:
  1. Place the turkey in a roasting pan and set aside. Mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Stir in the lemon juice, wine (or stock) and orange juice concentrate. Pierce the skin of the turkey with a sharp knife in several places. Pour the juice mixture over the turkey slowly, allowing it to seep into the cut skin to go underneath. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the foil and roast about 5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. With a turkey baster, slowly baste the turkey every 45 minutes with the pan liquids. Cover with foil during the last hour of cooking. Remove from the oven and let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ask Chef Tammy

Carla Rogan would like to know how to quickly thaw a frozen turkey. “I seem to always have a loaded refrigerator and forget about thawing the bird!” she writes.

Carla, although refrigerator thawing is recommended, you can use the cold water method. Place the turkey (in original wrappings) in cold water with the breast side down.

Make sure cold water covers the entire turkey. Change the water every half-hour. Allow at least 30 minutes thawing time per pound of turkey.

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood: talgood@tnelectric.org. You may be featured in the next issue of The Tennessee Magazine!

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.


Turkey tips

Refrigerator thawing:

  • If possible, thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Never thaw at room temperature.
  • Keep the turkey in the original wrappings and place on a tray or in a pan.
  • Allow about 5 hours of thawing time per pound of turkey.

Storage:

  • Keep a thawed or fresh turkey in the refrigerator.
  • Leave the turkey in the original wrappings.
  • Place on a tray or in a pan to prevent any juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Cook within three days.
  • Store cooked leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of serving.
  • Freeze excess amounts that cannot be consumed within a few days.

Other food prep steps:

  • Instead of a fork, use tongs when turning meats. Any piercing you make in the meat will allow internal juices essential for moisture to escape.
  • Before roasting poultry, insert a meat thermometer in the center of the inside thigh muscle. Always make sure the bulb of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bone or you’ll get an inaccurate reading.
  • To keep food freshest in your refrigerator, make sure the temperature is set no higher than 40 degrees and your freezer no more than zero degrees. The easiest way to determine this is to purchase thermometers specifically designed for the refrigerator and freezer and just leave them in there!
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About Author

Tammy Algood

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at talgood@tnelectric.org.

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