When I say this moist herby turkey is the juiciest, most succulent one ever, I’m not exaggerating. I have witnesses who will testify–under oath–that this turkey rocks Thanksgiving (or Christmas) meals. And it’s still moist the next day when you’re rummaging through the leftovers. That’s saying a lot.
The Keys to an Amazing Turkey:
Creating this sort of magic isn’t a quick process. I have come up with the top four things that must happen to get the best turkey ever:
- Use a fresh turkey: A frozen turkey just won’t be as moist and there’s a reason for this. The frozen water breaks down the meat. You’d think this means it’s more tender…you’d be wrong. It becomes tougher and drier.
- Spatchcock the turkey: Spatchcock = Cutting out the backbone. Seriously. Start from the neck, and saw down one side of the backbone and then down the other. Use the backbone in gravy or turkey stock. Flip the bird over breast side up. This flattened bird cooks more evenly meaning that you don’t overcook the white meat trying to cook the dark meat all the way through.
- Dry brine that turkey: A salt and sugar mixture rubbed all over–and I mean all over–makes the meat moist. Do this 24 hours before cooking, and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator. This makes for crispy skin and juicy meat. It’s cooking magic.
- Rub it with butter: After rinsing off the dry brine and patting the turkey dry prior to cooking, rub butter over and under the skin. Yes, I know it’s kinda creepy pulling up the skin, but you must do this. Must.
- Don’t overcook: I know I said four things, but that’s assuming you know not to overcook the turkey. While it might take three hours to roast a regular turkey, spatchcocked turkeys cook faster, from 80 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of the turkey. Just make sure thigh meat is at 165 and the breast meat is at 150. Start checking it around the hour mark.
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- *3 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 stick butter, softened
*1 tbsp per 5 lbs of poultry
**Note these recipes are for a 12-14 pound turkey.
- At least 24 hours before you cook the turkey, spatchcock it. Here’s how to do it. It might not look pretty, but the taste is well worth it.
- After spatchcocking the turkey, mix together the dry brine ingredients, and rub them all over the inside, outside, and—most importantly—under the skin. If you work your hand gently under the skin, it will separate from the meat enough to get the brine inside.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan UNCOVERED for 24 hours with the (missing) backbone down and the breast up.
- After the 24 hours, preheat oven to 450 F.
- Rinse the dry brine from your turkey (important because otherwise it’s too salty to eat). Pat the turkey dry.
- Combine butter rub ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Or you can soften the butter and mix it all together via your fingers. Rub butter mixture under the skin and over the skin. Even double the recipe amount because the more the merrier. (If you want to place the turkey on a bed of potatoes, you’ll get some amazing potatoes after the turkey cooks.)
- Let turkey to sit uncovered at room temp for 30 minutes.
- Cook turkey at 450 until thighs are 165 F and breasts are 150 F (about 80 to 120 minutes depending on the size of the turkey).
- Allow turkey to rest, tented with foil, for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Enjoy your turkey, and let me know how it went!