Thanksgiving Turkey: The Recipe and The Tools by The Fauxmartha
Words The Faux Martha
In a few short days, this large bird will be the centerpiece on so many tables across America. And yet, very few of us feel confident in our turkey cooking skills. For good reason. We typically only cook a whole bird 1-2 times a year (which is not easy in the first place), with a good 11 months in between each attempt. It’s hard to feel confident in something you don’t make often. For the past 9 years, I’ve been making the same recipe. After 9 attempts, I’m ready to hurl my method into the internet—everything from the recipe to the tools.
I still get nervous every single time I make a turkey. What if it’s dry? What if it’s undercooked? Brining the bird for 24 hours has never let me down. In fact, on my very first attempt 9 years ago, a friend commented that it was the best turkey he’s ever had. Maybe that was the wine talking? Or maybe brining is just that good.
My dad, the grill master, introduced me to brining, something he first read about in the paper. If unfamiliar with brining, it’s the process of soaking the turkey in an aromatic salt bath for 24 hours. Brining is insurance—insurance that your meat will have flavor everywhere between the skin and the skeleton, which is really hard to achieve on such a large piece of meat.
You can buy brining kits, however, making a brine is very simple and inexpensive (and one less thing to store after the holidays have passed). Some find brining to be messy. I hate making big messes, and this is my preferred method of choice. You can find my low-mess method here.
The Turkey Tools
Now you know, I don’t like adding unnecessary tools to my kitchen. But as my accountant told me: Invest in tools that make you more efficient. This advice is as true for businesses as it is for holiday cooking. Preparing a large holiday feast is no small task. Set yourself up to succeed. And on Thanksgiving, success is measured by efficiency. Will you put dinner on the table when promised? Probably not. But close counts.
I’ve marked items that are dishwasher safe. Dish washing might be the worst part of the meal. Run a quick cycle before the meal with the dirty prep tools so you have plenty of space afterwards for the plethora of dishes.
Store holiday cooking tools that wont get used throughout the year as you would store holiday decorations. Don’t keep them mixed in with the everyday.
Brining Bag I don’t use a bag specifically for brining. I opt for the affordable turkey roasting bags sold in grocery stores this time of year. They’re plenty large and durable. Save the extras in the holiday cooking storage box.
OXO Angled Baster This is one of those smart OXO products. It’s angled so that the contents don’t spill out when you set it down. It also has a little resting ledge built in to accomplish this. It comes apart in two spots for easy cleaning. I actually don’t baste my turkey since opening the oven again and again releases too much heat. Team efficiency over here. I also trust my brine enough to carry the flavor. I use the baster for removing the drippings easily from the roasting pan to make gravy. Dishwasher safe.
OXO Basting Brush I’ve had this brush for years. The silicone bristles hold liquids well. In the case of this turkey, I brush it evenly with olive oil just before heading into the oven. An even coating of oil (or melted butter) yields a beautiful gold crust. I keep a long brush for meat and a short brush for pastries. Dishwasher safe.
OXO Silicone Roasting Rack I’ve never used a roasting rack until these silicone racks came in the mail last week. Traditional roasting racks are bulky to store and hard to clean. But these! Oh my gosh, they stack on top of each other when not in use and clean in the dishwasher. I’m keeping these out for use all year long. Dishwasher safe.
Disposable Roasting Pan You’re going to shake your heavy pointer finger at me on this one. I’m team disposable roasting pan on Thanksgiving for the ease of clean-up. There’s just so much to clean! And up until 2 years ago, I didn’t have a sink large enough to clean a roasting pan. After cooking, I discard the turkey carcass into the compost, fold up the pan and crimp the sides to keep leakage at a minimum.
OXO Leave-in Thermometer In the name of keeping that oven shut, I opted for a leave in thermometer. This thermometer also has doneness temperatures on the cover, which I never can remember. Hand wash only.
OXO Poultry Lifter I’m not a huge fan of single-use tools. This was one of those tools where I was like, do I really need this? But after transferring the heavy bird out of the roasting pan seamlessly, I wondered how I ever did this before, especially when I used to stuff the bird. The verdict: I sorta love it. Dishwasher safe.
OXO Good Gravy Fat Separator I’ve seen Martha Stewart talk about this product for years. And after finally trying it, it’s magic! There’s a strainer at the top to catch larger, unwanted bits. Almost instantly after entering the container, the drippings separate, with the fat rising to the top. See my gravy recipe here. Dishwasher safe.
For more tips and the turkey recipe, head over to The Fauxmartha.