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Recipe: Thanksgiving Turkey

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this year I am thankful for perfecting my turkey recipe.

In my eyes, the turkey is usually never the star of Thanksgiving, because I am very partial to the mountains of sides. This year, however, I decided to do my research. I wanted my turkey to have crispy skin, a juicy breast, and meat flavored throughout, and not just on the edges. What’s the secret? Brining.

There are two ways to brine your turkey: wet brining or dry brining. To wet brine a turkey, you have to have a giant pot or bucket with a base of water and seasonings. The turkey marinates in this brine for over 24 hours, and helps ensure that the meat is thoroughly flavored.

I decided to dry brine my turkey, because of the importance of the crispy skin. I took a completely thawed turkey and patted it completely dry with paper towels. Then, I made a spice mixture of around 4 Tbsp of salt, and 1 Tbsp each of black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, sage and thyme. I rubbed the inside cavity with the mixture until it was thoroughly seasoned, and rubbed the skin of the entire bird with the mixture as well. Then, with my hands I carefully separated the membrane between the skin and the flesh on the breasts and on the meaty part of the legs and rubbed the remaining mixture in those cavities. I then placed my seasoned turkey on a pan with a roasting rack in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours. Also, the night before I cooked my bird, I make an herb butter to rub under the skin before cooking. I started by melting one stick of butter in the microwave, stirring every 45 seconds until completely melted. Then, I put in fresh thyme and sage and let the butter marinade in its liquid state for about an hour. Then, I took out the herbs and let it harden in the fridge.

The next day. I preheated my oven to 325°farenheight and moved the oven racks low enough to fit my turkey nicely. While the oven was preheating, I peeled and cut one white onion in half, and put it in the seasoned cavity of the bird. I also added one halved lemon, two whole cloves of garlic, and a bundle of fresh thyme and sage. Then, I took my herb butter and rubbed it under the skin all over the breasts and the legs. I flipped my wings under the bird, and filled the bottom of the roasting pan with about ¾ of an inch of chicken broth, so I could baste the turkey. I cooked my turkey according to the cook time calculator on the Butterball website and basted it every 15-20 minutes. I had an 18lb turkey and it took approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to cook thoroughly.

I ended up with the perfect turkey. It was juicy and tender, with crispy skin and flavorful meat. It was by far, the best turkey I have ever had, and it is now the star of my thanksgiving feast.

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