This year, because of a scheduling mishap with our families, Dan and I are missing a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Which, I will admit, breaks my heart because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Instead on Thursday I will be eating taco lasagna. Or New Jersey tomato pie, if I have any say in the matter.
Anyway, as a consolation, I decided to make a Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before so that I could make sure I got all my favorite foods. We invited over Dan’s sister, Megan, her husband John, and their (adorable) two year old Meredith, and did Thanksgiving the way it should be done, with not a black bean in sight.
I should mention that I’ve never actually made a whole turkey by myself before. My father deep-fries our turkeys every year. So while I’ve watched him deep fry them, and I vaguely remember the baked turkeys of my childhood, I’ve never been responsible for a turkey myself. So… this was an experiment.
I bought a twelve pound fresh turkey (anything bigger was too intimidating) and set to work. To calm myself I’ve been overdosing on Food Network, and last week I saw a Bobby Flay Thanksgiving episode that inspired me. He, naturally, grilled his turkey, but first he made an Apple-Sage glaze that sounded amazing. Think granny smith apples, serrano chiles, onions, and sage. The perfect combination of spicy, sweet, and sour.
Another tip I learned from watching Alton Brown was to make what he called a turkey triangle. I’ve learned that one of the issues with cooking a perfect whole turkey is that the dark meat and the light meat need to be cooked at different temperatures or for different periods of time to get the optimal flavor/texture. So, Alton suggested making an aluminum foil tent, that you put over the turkey in the middle of the cooking process, which shields the white meat from getting too dry and allows the dark meat to cook. He also suggests cooking at two different temperatures for a total of about two hours.
Source: Bobby Flay
1 red onion
2 granny smith apples
2 serrano chili peppers
2 tbsp fresh sage
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Chop the onions and serrano chiles. Begin to sauté the onions and chiles in the olive oil. Peel and dice the apples, and add them to the pan. Add vinegar and sugar, and stir. Allow the sugar to melt and become syrupy. Remove from heat. Coarsely chop 5 or 6 leaves of sage. Pour your apple mixture into the food processor. Add sage and salt and pepper. Puree in the food processor and set aside.
Source: Alton Brown
Preheat the oven to 500*. Remove the gizzards (they should be in a bag inside the turkey) and set aside if you’re planning on using them for anything. Place in your roasting pan and tie the back legs together. Take a large rectangle of aluminum foil. Fold into a triangular shape and coat one side with olive oil. Press the aluminum over the body of the turkey. Remove and set aside. Brush the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Rub with Apple-Sage glaze. Bake at 500* for 30 minutes. Drop the temperature to 350* Open the oven door, put a thermometer into the top of the turkey (at least one inch deep), and put on the turkey triangle. If you wanted, you could also slap another quick glaze on it before you put on the turkey triangle. Bake the turkey at 350* until the temperature is 161*. This should take about an hour and a half (on a twelve-fourteen pound turkey, longer for a bigger turkey), making the total bake time approximately two hours.
Let sit for half an hour out of the oven so that the juices have the opportunity to redistribute.