Can you believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner?
I feel like I was going through an “OMG will 2020 ever end?” mood and then BAM it is almost the holidays and now I am scrambling to get my menus planned and shopping done!
One thing I never have to second guess though is my turkey.
We always have turkey for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, and at least one (we usually smoke a second one at Thanksgiving) is done like this.
This is the way my Grandparents always did their turkey and I have made mine like this since I started roasting turkeys. I even use this method with my chickens. You can’t beat it for juicy meat and crispy skin!
And trust me, I have tried just about every method known to man!!
Oh, while I am thinking about it, if you are looking for a way to de-stress planning Thanksgiving you can get a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Planning Guide + Free Downloadable Planner here.
The first step is the brine, and I can’t express enough how important this step is.
The brine in this recipe is the traditional brine my Grandparents used with a few adaptations. If you want to try one we started using a couple years back, you can find that recipe here. It uses white wine, fresh citrus, and fresh herbs 😋
Every year I get emails from people that have sworn off using any other brine, but this recipe is 100% my Grandparents recipe so I wanted to share it that way and it produces a super flavorful and juicy bird too!
I mean, you can’t beat a traditional recipe right?
Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room, shall we?
Some people swear by it, some think it’s a waste of time, so let’s dig in.
To Brine, or Not to Brine?
Brining a turkey adds moisture and flavor, particularly when you use a brine that contains a lot of flavors. Brines can include all sorts of ingredients to boost the flavor including herbs and spices, making the turkey taste much better than your average bird.
But perhaps the biggest pro of brining the turkey is doing away with that dry bird that so many are used to. The salt in the brine changes the muscle tissue of the turkey so that it can absorb more water and therefore more flavor. Fans of brining a turkey cite the dry breast problem as one of the main reasons to put the extra time into cooking your holiday bird.
Now, if you are not into added work, or are lucky enough to get your hands on a heritage turkey, wet brining might not be the way to go.
In that case, I would go with a dry brine method and use the cooking method below.
That way you have delicious crispy skin to munch on!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE PERFECT ROAST TURKEY
Erythritol natural sweetener (non-keto can use regular sugar)
One of the things I love about the holidays is the memories we create.
My grandfather and grandmother were the ones that ran the show over the holidays when I was a kid, and I loved hanging out with them in the kitchen while they cooked.
Grandpa made the stuffing, my Grandma always baked bread (aaahhh I can still smell it!), and pecan pie.
I remember one year my Grandmother was making her famous pecan pie.
We were all hanging around the kitchen, drooling, and she grabbed the pie out of the oven to set it on a rack to cool. For some reason, the oven mitt didn’t protect her from the heat of the pie tin, and down the pie went onto the floor.
It was like slow motion. Pie tin tips, pie begins to slip, several of us jump for it. Like we are going to be able to bare hand catch a blazingly hot pie right?
Nope, it hit the floor.
My grandmother was so upset.
Meanwhile, the rest of us went about the task of gabbing the tools that would allow us to still enjoy the scrumptious dessert.
We grabbed a spatula and a baking sheet. I carefully used the spatula to lift the pie up leaving just a thin amount on the floor and slid it on to the baking sheet.
Hey, we used to joke that my Grandma kept her floors so clean that you could eat off of them!! We were not losing this pie!!
That year we joked about how wonderful my Grandma’s Upside Down Pecan Pie was and that she needed to share the recipe with everyone.
I think I got hit in the head with a stray wooden spoon 🤣
I love every single one of those memories,
along with the little tips and tricks that they taught me.
I have of course, through the years, tweaked things here and there. But the basics still remain the same. Sometimes simple is just the way to go, right?
WHY USE CHEESECLOTH WHEN ROASTING A TURKEY
One of the most tragic things that can happen to a big beautiful holiday turkey is that it dries out.
The image that comes to mind is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Clark cuts into the crispy golden brown turkey only to have it explode to show an interior of dried out meat, tendons, and bones.
Covering your turkey with cheesecloth while it roasts helps to lock moisture in, keep it from drying out, and protect the skin from getting too dark.
So no dried out turkey explosion, just a gorgeously browned skin, and moist and tender meat for the whole family to enjoy!
FAQ ABOUT PERFECT ROAST TURKEY
Do I have to brine my turkey? As I talked about above, brining is a personal choice. I have wet brined, dry brined, and used no brine at all. My experience has been wet brining brought the most moisture and flavor to a roasted bird. I prefer dry brining for grilling and smoking. But if you do not want to go to the hassle of wet brining I would definitely dry brine.
Do I have to leave my turkey uncovered in the fridge overnight? To me, this is a crucial step if you want crispy golden brown skin. The times I have been in a rush and skipped it the skin was softer and not a pleasant eating experience.
The chicken stock didn’t want to soak into the cheesecloth when I first basted, what did I do wrong? I have never had this issue, but have heard from some readers that they struggled to get the cheesecloth to absorb the chicken stock on the first baste. I think it might be different brands, and how they are treated, so my suggestion would be, if you are worried about this, to cut your cheesecloth to fit your turkey and then soak it in the chicken stock prior to placing it over the bird.
The cheesecloth stuck to the turkey when I tried to take it off, what do I do? I know it is so hard to be patient at this point because that gorgeous bird is calling your name but, be patient, go slowly, baste, baste, and baste some more. Pull slowly as you do and don’t force it or the skin will rip. It will work, I promise!
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, sugar, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, sage, and peppercorns in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature.
2 days before you
Combine the brine, water, and ice in a large stockpot. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed and reserved) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove the bird and discard the brine. Pat the bird dry. Season with cracked black pepper and poultry seasoning, rubbing the skin to make sure the seasoning is even all over the bird. Place the turkey on a platter or baking sheet in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.
The day you want to eat
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Place a rack in your roasting pan, or you can lay carrots and celery stalks on the bottom of the roaster to left the turkey up from the bottom.
Carefully place the turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. Place the garlic, onion, lemons, and herbs inside the cavity. Truss the turkey if it does not come that way.
Loosely cover the turkey with the cheesecloth, tucking the edges into the pan.
Heat at least 2 quarts of the stock in a medium pot, over medium heat. Add the innards (neck, liver, heart, etc) and keep the stock just below a simmer. You will use this to baste your turkey and to make your gravy if wanted.
Place the turkey in the oven with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
Cook the turkey, basting every after 30 minutes for the first hour, then every hour until it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. The temperature will rise as it rests.
Using the turkey baster, carefully squirt the warmed stock over the bird as you slowly peel the cheesecloth off. Be patient, don’t tear the skin.
The result will be brown, crispy gorgeous skin!
Remove the herbs and replace with fresh for garnish
Sat. Fat (grams)
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs will not be included as it has a glycemic index of 0 (meaning it does not spike blood sugar) and it’s not metabolized. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
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Welcome! It is so nice to meet you. My name is Bobbi. I am the Mom of 2 great kids, and Nana to a beautiful baby girl Kylee, and a handsome little devil named Torin. I share my life and home with my awesome partner Kevin, and 2 furbabies….