Thanksgiving Day is finally here! Today, people are traveling by planes, trains and automobiles to get to their resting place for the big day. Others are making last minute trips to the grocery store to pick up missed ingredients, while some are still trying to figure out what to make. And, most are asking the inevitable question, "What temperature am I supposed to cook this turkey to again?" So, just in case, here's my quick and easy recipe for a guaranteed moist turkey and awesome gravy, along with some suggested recipes for my favorite side dishes nd desserts just in case you are still hunting around!
My turkey recipe is an adaptation of Alton Brown's Good Eats recipe from many years ago. I've been cooking it this way for years and it's never failed me. It's easy and believe it or not, it's pretty quick, too. Take your fully thawed turkey out of the refrigerator 90 minutes before cooking time. Clean it good, inside and out, removing any package of neck bones and innards, then pat it very dry. Let it rest to come to room temperature.
About 30 minutes before cooking time, move the rack in your oven to the lowest level and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack inside a roasting pan. Mix up a spice rub of 1 tablespoon each of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and thyme. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity and stuff then stuff it with an onion, lemon and orange, each cut in half. Use some kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Then, liberally drizzle olive oil on the turkey and rub it in. Then sprinkle the spice rub on the turkey and rub it in good.
Insert an instant read thermometer, preferably a digital one you can monitor throughout the cooking without opening the oven door, into the thickest part of the breast, making sure to go in about half way, but don't touch the breast bone. Place the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes. It will get very hot and you'll hear lots of sizzling and may even see a little smoke in the oven. Don't open the oven door, and maybe open a few windows in the kitchen so you don't set off the smoke detectors.
After 30 minutes, open the oven door being careful of the smoke which will quickly escape. Carefully cover only the breasts with tin foil and return to the oven. Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking until the turkey's thermometer reads 161 degrees. For a 15 pound turkey, it should take about another 1.5 to 2 hours more. Take the turkey out of the oven, carefully remove it from the pan to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Red Wine Gravy
While the turkey is resting, discard most of the liquid in the roasting pan, leaving the stuck on bits in place. Put the roasting pan over two burners over medium-low heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour and quickly whisk together to create a roux. Whisk for another minute, then add 1 cup of red wine and scrap the pan to release the bits from the pan. After 1 minute, add 2 cups of chicken stock and raise the temperature to high and bring to a boil. Stir until the gravy thickens a little bit. Lastly, add some salt and pepper to taste, and some fresh thyme if you'd like. Transfer the gravy to a stock pan and place on low to keep warm until dinner time.
Here are a few links to side dishes I've made over the years that are a real hit: