Everyone at Thanksgiving knew what lengths I’d gone to to bring them the best turkey ever, so the hyperbole ran like a river.
“Usually I don’t even like turkey. I never get excited about it. But this is awesome. I love it.”
“Normally, I have a horrible turkey allergy. Just one bite and I go into anaphylactic shock. But this turkey? Nothing.”
“This turkey is so good, I’m going to have its name tattooed on my arm.”
“Across my chest!”
“I heart Tom Turkey.”
“This turkey is so good, I threw it up just so I could eat it again. And it was better the second time.”
“This is the best turkey that has ever been cooked by man.”
Hyperbole aside, the Empire Kosher turkey turned out to be the best turkey I’ve ever cooked. Hallelujah! On the downside, it was very poorly plucked which added a disgusting 40 minutes to my prep time the night before. I decided to go with America’s Test Kitchen’s whole herb roasted turkey method so I:
1. Washed, dried (and plucked) the turkey the night before and let it air dry uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. The air drying helps to crisp the skin.
2. Rubbed herb paste under and over the skin. I didn’t fill a slot inside the breast with paste or use olive oil as they suggested because I didn’t want overpowering herb flavor. I used butter and a slightly different ratio of chopped herbs.
3. Set the roaster rack on top of a pound of quartered shallots with 1/2 cup broth. The shallots flavor the broth that will be made into gravy and keep the meat from swimming in it.
4. Lined the roaster rack with foil and pierced it with a knife 30 times. The foil prevents the breast from getting rack marks when it’s breast-side down. The holes let the juices drip through.
5. Cooked it at 400 degrees breast down for 45 minutes.
6. Flipped it over with wads of paper towels and removed the foil. This was difficult and required my husband’s help.
7. Roasted it until it registered 160 degrees in the breast meat (160-165 was the goal) and 175 in the thighs (170-175 was the goal.). This took another hour and a half which was longer than their per pound guide estimated.
8. Let it rest for 30 minutes while I made the gravy and transported it to the Lunsford’s.
Truly it was a divine turkey. The meat was tender and juicy and well-flavored. My main regret was that there weren’t more leftovers. Usually we have turkey for days and days after, but this year the crowd, erm, gobbled it all up.
Would I do it again? Would I drive to Maryland and pay all that money? Yes. I would love to find just a breast for my family on Christmas–preferrably one better plucked. It was enough to make you believe in turkey as a protein for people who aren’t even on the Biggest Loser.