Alright so this was quite the challenge and it caused a bit of anxiety for me. Making my first traditional Thanksgiving dinner was successful, but it took a week of research. I asked several people what is the easiest and best way to cook a turkey. For anyone that knows me well, they know that I hate cooking large protein courses because I always have the fear of drying the meat out. So my thought process was to ask several co-workers who have made turkey for several years now. They know best theory, because they have probably discovered what works and what doesn’t. Oh my god the variety of ideas and suggestions thrown my way. So as a conclusion the easiest way to cook a turkey was to deep fry it, but I didn’t have a deep fryer and wasn’t about to go get one. 80% of the people I asked have learned that brining their turkey guarantees the meat to stay juicy and making it harder to dry out the meat. 20% of the people said they sear the turkey for 15 minutes to crisp the skin locking in the juices and then turning down the oven to cook the turkey for the remaining hours. 90% still baste the turkey every hour. Now this was a challenge as well because I was working night shifts at the hospital and didn’t want to wake up early and baste a turkey every hour. So I searched and searched for another way to keep it moist without having to baste a turkey. Voila, Monica you are my savior! She has given me her tradition of wrapping the entire turkey in bacon after searing it, to keep the moisture locked in. Now I did end up basting it a few times just because, but I really didn’t need to. Also 90% said do not stuff the turkey and it will cook better. Alright here was the process I went through.
Here is the recipe for the Brine.
I just bought a frozen Butterball turkey for 7-9 people approximately 15 pounds. I thawed it as instructed on the package (4-5 days in the fridge). The day before cooking the turkey I made the brine and let everything marinate for 24 hours.
At 12:30 pm the day of the dinner I massaged the skin with olive oil and seared the turkey for 15 minutes, at 500 degrees Celsius (it was sitting in 2 cups of vegetable broth and carrots, celery, onions surrounded the turkey). I then pulled it out of the oven and wrapped the entire turkey in two packages of bacon! I know amazingly unhealthy, but it is Thanksgiving dinner. Who cares, RIGHT! I put it back into the oven for 3.5 hour at 350 degrees Celsius, and left it alone. I went back to sleep and woke up once to baste the turkey and check on my sizzling baby. By 4:30 pm it was cooked and ready to go. I pulled it out of the oven. I thought hmmmm why not add the bacon to the stuffing instead of what the original recipe asked for (see below). So I peeled the bacon off the skin and chopped it into small chunks folding it into the stuffing mixture. I had made the stuffing the day before, but after adding the bacon I decided to re-cooked it for another 30 minutes with the squash. I tented the turkey with tin foil and let it sit for about 45 minutes, while I cooked the roasted butternut squash and re-warmed the stuffing. So by 5:30 pm my husband, who had been home from work for an hour already had the honours of carving the turkey. I was hovering behind him nervous to see if it was dry or not. Nope, quite contrary. His first slice into the turkey, the breast actually slid right off the bone and the rest of the turkey just collapsed. Moisture galore! Success, I was jumping for joy! I hope you find your perfect turkey recipe, because I found mine on the first try. Thanks to my lovely co-workers and hard-working mother’s who do this crazy feast every year 2-3 times for their families, your ideas contributed to this dinner significantly.
In the rush of things I didn’t get a photo of the turkey at all. Oh well You know what a turkey looks like 😉
Here is the stuffing recipe, which my oldest brother has already requested for next year. I added my own twist to it and so should you. Instead of wrapping them in bacon as the recipe had done, I just made it in a casserole dish and baked it, The next day I added the bacon from the turkey, chopped, and re-warmed it for 30 minutes at 375 degrees Celsius.
The gravy I made from the drippings, nothing special. Just added thickening agent and a Knorr poultry gravy package to the drippings and whisked away. Next year I’ll search for the ultimate gravy recipe.
Now I wasn’t going to make cranberry sauce, but while standing in line at Ikea buying some new plates a chatty couple convince me to make it from scratch.They guided me through a few recipes they have tried, but I ended up finding a recipe from Pinterest that appeared easy and went with it.
My middle brother made scalloped potatoes and a green bean dish to add to the meal. It was all amazing.
Now I couldn’t convince my older brother to make dessert, but he picked up an amazing hazelnut cake from Glamorgan Bakery. I couldn’t complain because it was amazing! Check it out and get one for your next family gathering.