Fool-Proof Thanksgiving Turkey: Show the Bird Who's Boss!

Fool-Proof Turkey | Thanksgiving | Recipe | Wayward Gourmet | Brining

Deep Breaths, Everything's Gonna Be Alright!

A huge meal, football, and leftovers (then maybe a little shopping at midnight.) Who doesn't love Thanksgiving? It's literally a judgement free zone to gorge yourself on turkey then slip nicely into a tryptophan coma.

So why is Thanksgiving such a stressful holiday?  Well, for some people, it's having to spend the day with relatives they wouldn't be caught in public with (remember when Uncle Bruce came to dinner with the boot on his head?) But for others, the stress comes from having to cook a huge meal for a butt-load of people who have spent the morning drinking and yelling at the floats on the Macy's Parade.

I mean, if it meant boiling a couple pounds of pasta and pouring some jarred marinara over it, sure, things wouldn't be so bad. But, nooOOoo, Thanksgiving requires you to mash potatoes, cook stuffing, bake pie, the list goes on. But the mother of all the difficult tasks is roasting the turkey.

The thought of cooking a turkey can make a grown man cry, send any person into the fetal position and loathe the day they told their family "why don't we have Thanksgiving at our place?"

So why is this? Why is turkey such a pain in the fanny?  Well, for starters, they're generally pretty big and with any meat, you need to get it to a certain temperature to have it safe to eat.  Unfortunately, by the time the inside is cooked, the meat on the outside might as well be shoe leather.

Ok, so with the negative stuff out of the way, here's our foolproof secret to roasting the perfect turkey for your next Thanksgiving meal:

One word: Brining

Brining is the age old technique of soaking something in a salt solution for a given period of time. It's insanely easy and will have Grandpa Joe asking "why is this turkey so much better than last year's?"

Brining works in a couple of ways that have some serious science behind them. All you have to know is that brining helps your turkey retain moisture while tenderizing the proteins. Done and done.

Be sure to read through all the steps before starting out. There's a lot to cover but it's not nearly as bad as it seems.

Here's what you need:

  • A bigass food-safe bucket or stockpot (I'm talking big, like the 5 gallon ones you can get at Home Depot. Trust me, it's worth it)
  • 1 gallon of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of sea salt
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1, 10-15 lb turkey (duh)
  • Large roasting pan
  • Meat thermometer (this is key!)

Here's what you do:

  1. In a large stockpot, combine the broth and sea salt.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring every now and then until salt is dissolved or liquid is boiling.
  3. Remove from the pot from heat and allow to cool to room temp.
  4. Place your turkey into your bigass bucket with the cavity facing upwards.
  5. Slowly pour in broth mixture followed by ice water. Try to get the entire bird submerged.
  6. Place bucket in refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days in advance.
  7. On the big day, remove the turkey from brine and place into a roasting pan with a rack inside to keep the bird elevated from the juices that render off.
  8. Pat the turkey dry and season with salt and pepper or your favorite poultry seasoning. Our favorite seasoning for all things bird is our own Nobody Calls Me Chicken blend. It's perfectly balanced with herbs and spices with just a hint of lemon zest. Simply rub a generous amount of the blend over every surface of the turkey until it's been nicely coated. You can also mix the blend with a little melted butter or olive oil to help it all stick.
  9. THAT'S IT!  Well, the hard part that is. All you have to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and roast uncovered 3 1/2 to 4 hours until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. 
  10. Periodically baste the turkey with the drippings that fall into the pan to keep that bad boy moist and flavorful.
  11. Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but I really wanted to make sure everything was covered. It's really not so bad once you realize there's only about 4 major things to do. Everything else is just me being long-winded with directions. I genuinely hope this helps you in your Thanksgiving feast prep as it's truly an awesome time of year to spend with friends and family, not one to spend stuck in the kitchen. Unless, of course, Uncle Bruce decides to wear the boot on his head again...

Let us know how it turned out, we love to see your creations on Instagram #WaywardGourmet and Twitter @WaywardGourmet. Send em to us and we'll post your deliciousness on our site. 



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