I love Thanksgiving. I love being with friends and family. I love the sentiment of being thankful. And, I really, really love Thanksgiving dinner.
I have heard lots of people say that they don’t really care for turkey. That it’s bland or blah, or whatever. I do really like turkey. When it is brined and then properly seasoned, it is really good. (Is that enough really’s?)
I don’t particularly like plain turkey OR plain gravy. This is anything but plain turkey. This one has a marinade that hearkens to my childhood in the Caribbean. It has lots of garlic, olive oil, spices, a lemon AND a lime (or you can use 2 of any of them, but I like to use one of each because each imparts a slightly different flavor), soy sauce, and mustard. Also, when it is nicely spiced like this, the gravy you make with the pan drippings also has a tangy, lovely flavor.
I have also heard complaints of being intimidated by trying to cook a turkey. Something about it being the size that it is seems to make it more complicated than it actually is. Take it one, easy step at a time, and it comes out perfect every time.
I always stuff my turkey, but I know that some people are squeamish, so you can also roast un-stuffed if you prefer. Just follow the roasting times according to whether or not you stuff it, for food safety reasons.
Thanksgiving menu : Roasted Turkey (Lemon Garlic Marinade)
~12 pound Turkey (fresh or thawed according to directions)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup coarse sea salt (or regular table salt)
Juice (and rinds) of 2 lemons
Place all ingredients in pot. Add 5 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Rinse turkey of all package juices. Gently loosen skin from breast, and as deep into the leg/thigh area as you can without ripping skin. Place in container big enough to submerge turkey completely. Add brine to container, topping off with cold water to completely cover the turkey. Allow brine to enter in between the skin and meat by raising skin a bit as it submerges.
Let brine for about 2 hours.
Drain brine and rinse turkey completely. Place on a large tray.
1 ½ stick butter, softened
1-2 teaspoon mustard
1 ½ teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 lemon, juiced (reserving rind)
1 lime, juiced (reserving rind)
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, place all marinade ingredients, except butter. Process till smooth. Add butter and process a second time to combine. It gets nice and thickly emulsified, so it stays in place on the bird, and doesn’t drip off during the marinating process overnight.
Using the lemon and lime rinds you just juiced for the marinade, rub all over the turkey.
Rub marinade all over turkey, including under skin to get it onto the turkey breast as well. Also rub a bit into cavity (and on the neck).
Place in fridge overnight.
When ready to cook, remove from fridge. Let stand to get to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place turkey (including neck) in roasting pan.
Roast till internal temperature reaches 165 F on meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg. Baste liberally and often throughout the roasting process.
You will want to let rest for 15 minutes before cutting into it, so that all the turkey juices reincorporate into the meat, and not run out when you carve it.
Meanwhile, pour out all the lovely pan juices, and use to make gravy.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can follow the guides below from the USDA website . Mine was perfectly done at right around 3½ hours for my just-under-12 pound bird.
|4 to 8 pounds (breast)||1½ to 3¼ hours|
|8 to 12 pounds||2¾ to 3 hours|
|12 to 14 pounds||3 to 3¾ hours|
|14 to 18 pounds||3¾ to 4¼ hours|
|18 to 20 pounds||4¼ to 4½ hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||4½ to 5 hours|
|4 to 6 pounds (breast)||Not usually applicable|
|6 to 8 pounds (breast)||2½ to 3½ hours|
|8 to 12 pounds||3 to 3½ hours|
|12 to 14 pounds||3½ to 4 hours|
|14 to 18 pounds||4 to 4¼ hours|
|18 to 20 pounds||4¼ to 4¾ hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||4¾ to 5¼ hours|
Brine note – you can use regular vinegar/lemon and water without adding anything else (such as the coriander or onion), as in this post, doubling the vinegar/lemon.
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