Long before I had any culinary aspirations I watched my family labor and sweat over the Thanksgiving turkey year after year. It seemed as though cooking the holiday bird was a very very difficult task that took up almost an entire 24 hour day. Between the thawing and the carving of the annual Thanksgiving bird there were many tense moments around my house.
Now that the Thanksgiving turkey preparation has fallen to me I take a slightly different and less arduous approach to getting the bird from freezer to fork. If you can identify with the worries of cooking your own Thanksgiving turkey then here I come to make the day a little easier.
First some background on how to season the Thanksgiving turkey. This step can range from simple salt and pepper to elaborate preparations that involve marinades, injections, rubs or brine. When the care and cooking of the turkey is my job I usually use a sweet spicy rub with a sweet citrus injection giving the bird flavors within and without.
For the rub try a mixture of about one half cup of dark brown sugar mixed together with 2 tablespoons of chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add to this a half teaspoon of salt and rub the mixture all over the skin and even under the skin of your bird. Once the cooking has begun baste the bird from time to time with melted butter. The injection if you so choose to do what I do is a mixture of maple syrup and orange juice. These flavors are unique to Thanksgiving but will be a welcomed change.
As to how to cook the Thanksgiving turkey follow the package directions. On every bird, unless you go out and bag one from the wild, there is information on the time and temperature relative to the weight of the bird. Following these instructions is key to having a Thanksgiving turkey that is properly done but not dry.
Please note that nowhere in the sharing of Joe’s personal Thanksgiving turkey recipe were there instructions for covering the bird while cooking. Covering a turkey would cause it to steam rather than roast and that is not a pleasant site when it garnishes the center of the holiday table.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy cooking