I have had some wonderful food adventures as of recent, but I must start with Thanksgiving before it is too late. First, I was recently told that no one "our" age actually knows how to make a turkey, thus it is a tradition that will eventually die out. I am afraid that this fact is becoming more and more true. Additionally, more and more people have told me that they do no like turkey. I feel compelled to argue that you, do in fact, like turkey...you just have not found the right turkey maker. No offense against your mother, grandmother, Aunt Mildred or whomever, but the fact remains (as has been argued by many chefs and foodie out there) that most of the turkeys you have experienced in your life have been dried out. So as the tradition is dying out, it is also a matter of drying out (he he). You should not be intimidated by the wonderfulness that is turkey. In fact, now is the best time to give turkey another shot. After all, the turkey was almost our national bird and granted todays supermarket turkeys have little resemblance to the original turkeys found on this great land mass of ours (whoop for American products in the Columbian exchange), this bird can be an efficient and delicious addition to your recipe catalog. Go buy a turkey. Now. Do not hesitate. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Go to your local supermarket and find a fresh turkey breast. The sooner you go, the cheaper it will be because they are all on sale RIGHT now. They have to get those suckers out of their coolers because they are not (and never have been) frozen. Go get one. Do you have one? Good. We will start with the basic turkey and once you have mastered that (hopefully in one shot...that is how confident I am that you will succeed) you can look for additional changes online. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Hopefully you have a roasting pan with rack. If not (go buy one) or find some way to elevate your turkey from the pan you will be cooking it in (try a cooling rack). Next, it is bath time. No, not for you, but for the bird. Yes, take the bird out of the packaging and give him (or her) a good rub down under cool water. No, do not use soap and your scrubby sponge- just good old high quality H2O. Nice and rinsed? Fabulous...by the way you are doing a great job. Forget about the rest of the stuff that came with the turkey...we are just worried with the bird. Pat your turkey down with a paper towel. Next time for a massage. No, not you again...the turkey. Pick your favorite oil (I prefer the ever popular extra virgin olive oil). Just give him a little and massage him a bit.
Get to know your turkey...give him a name (it will feel less cheap that way...one year I had two turkeys- Buddy and Holly)...rub him down with that olive oil. Next give him a shimmy shake of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Make sure you do this on the outside as well as the inside (you may need to recruit your favorite shimmy shaking buddy for this). Don't worry- we are almost done. We then take two carrots halved(no, you do not have to peel them), two stalks of celery halved, a handful of parsley, and half a lemon. Shove them (or place them gently) in the turkey "cavity", they should stay ok, but if you need to tie the sucker up, feel free (but don't ask me how). Now we place the turkey in the roasting pan upside down...that is right ladies and gents (and gents out there?!?!?)...breast down. For those of you who do not know, gravity works in cooking too. If we cook our turkey (for a short time) breast side down, where do all of the juices go? Yes, that is right class the breast is the boob of the turkey (sorry, reverted to teaching for a minute). Yes, the the juices go down into the breast...juice equals lack of dryness. Last, but not least, we place half a can of chicken stock and the beer of your choice in the roasting pan. Cook for 35 minutes. Enjoy a bath or a massage, but don't relax too much. At 35 minutes reduce the heat to 375 degrees and very carefully pull the pan out of the oven. Flip the turkey over being careful (it will be hot and not cooked all the way). Go wash your hands. No, not after you put the turkey back in. NOW! After your hands are washed (not rinsed) put the turkey back in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. Your ideal internal temperature when you pull the turkey out would be about 160 degrees (it will carry over more than that). Let the turkey rest and enjoy. Trust me. The turkey is back and better than ever. Gobble, gobble.