To Brine, To Baste, or to Skip it all Together.
If you are making the Thanksgiving turkey the pressure is on, and everyone has an opinion on what makes the most perfect turkey. I have an uncle that swears he can tell if a turkey was brined or basted, he says basted turkey’s skin is to wet and the meat is to dry, and another family member says that brining makes it salty. I can tell you I personally skip them both no basting no brining, just a simple butter and herb rub and a nice glass of wine while I wait about 2 hours for it to be done and no one has yet to say that my turkey is too dry or too salty. How can I do this, I use a meat probe. Many of the newer model ovens, Monogram, Thermador, Wolf, Signature Kitchen Suites and many more come with a tethered meat probe that connects to oven and will let you know when you have reached the perfect internal temperature and other brands like Miele even offer an oven that has a wireless probe. Do not fret if your oven does not have the same capability, you can also purchase a wireless Bluetooth meat probe for as low as 50 dollars.
The benefits of using a probe and a rub, is that it keeps me from continually opening the oven to baste the turkey and let the heat out, or potentially over cooking it if I used a brine. The recipe for my rub is very simple it involves butter, unsalted, about 2-3 sticks for a 10-14-pound turkey add an extra stick for a 20-pound turkey. I melt 2 sticks of butter with rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and little Bell’s poultry seasoning. Then I rub the mixture all over the outside of my turkey giving it a good coating. I then stuff the inside of my turkey with a handful of rosemary, sage, and thyme, a few cloves of garlic, 3 orange wheels, and a stick of soften butter (please remember to remove the neck and all the organs that come inside the turkey they make an amazing gravy base.) By placing the butter inside it will melt and help to keep the turkey meat moist. If the idea of that much butter is too much, I have used with great success vegetable stock that I have frozen into ice cube and place about 6 frozen stock cubes instead. Once my turkey is seasoned and stuffed, I find the thickest part of the turkey and set the probe to 160 degrees to tell when the turkey is done, I also set the oven to 425 degrees convection bake or roast if possible, no preheating. Place the turkey on the lowest rack, leave it uncovered and I keep the light on so I am not tempted to open just a little and peek to see how it is doing. The higher temperature and lower level will allow the outside to be crispy without burning. The probe will let me know when it is done and all I have to do is take it out of the oven let it rest a few minutes and have someone else carve it.
Remember the most important thing to do is use a method that you are comfortable with that will allow you to enjoy your friends and family. From our kitchens to yours, Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!