Turkey Done Right Thanksgiving's Main Act Can Be Basted or Glazed

By Kane, Karen | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), November 8, 2017 | Go to article overview

Turkey Done Right Thanksgiving's Main Act Can Be Basted or Glazed


Kane, Karen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


On the Thanksgiving mornings of my youth, I would awaken to the smell of stuffed turkey roasting in the oven. The aroma was a combination of bird and butter, celery and onion, sage and rosemary.

I'd patter barefoot to the kitchen to see Mum in her robe, up to her elbows in the cavity of Turkey Number Two, with Turkey Number One well on its way to burnished deliciousness. My parents hosted a big family such that two birds were needed to feed the crew.

So, because no one makes a better turkey than Mum and because everyone should do as Mum did, I'm going to tell you how she did it with the largest turkey she could find for the best price.

In a minute ...

Meantime, consider this: Why not treat yourself and your family to a traditional turkey and one that's got a little spin on the serve? You can have it both ways.

Either cook a second turkey on Thanksgiving Day, assembly-line fashion; or buy a bigger-than-needed bird and, while roasting it the old-fashioned way with lots of butter, use the down-time in the kitchen to whip up a tasty glaze or two that could be repurposed as marinade/sauce for the leftovers.

Like other poultry, turkey has a mild flavor on its own; It's the reason it's the perfect vehicle for savory gravy or sweet/tart cranberry relish.

But the bird can take flight to new flavor dimensions with a glaze/marinade/sauce.

As a glaze, whether savory or sweet, when it's applied to the turkey during roasting, it can dramatically shift the flavor focus of the bird. For that reason, pick a glaze with a taste profile that complements the rest of the meal. (Do you want a spicy, jalapeno-dominant glazed bird aside marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and green bean casserole? I think not.)

In advance of the holiday, I tried several distinctive glaze recipes, using a plum glaze - to scrumptious effect - during the roasting process. With the other glazes, I repurposed them as a marinade for the leftovers, packing those leftovers in a plastic food storage bag then pouring in the glaze-cum-marinade. The next day, I microwaved. Yum.

Give it a try. While your turkey is roasting in a bath of butter on Thanksgiving Day, make a couple of glazes then stow away in the fridge. When dinner is done, divide the leftover meat into storage bags and pour a bit of the glaze into the bags. On the following day, pop the marinaded turkey into a low oven or the microwave. No one will complain about leftovers.

MUM'S BUTTER-BASTED TURKEY

PG tested

This turkey will end up pretty as a picture and perfectly mild such that a slice of white breast meat will be perfect topped with chunky cranberry relish and the dark-meat pickins' will be delectable slathered with homemade gravy.

22-pound turkey

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 sticks salted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash bird, inside and out, then pat dry. Place it on a rack in a roasting pan.

Rub cavity opening with salt and pepper. Then tilt bird and sprinkle some seasoning inside cavity, too.

With your fingers, carefully separate as much of the turkey's skin from the breast as you can.

Smear butter directly on breast meat

Then smear butter over the entire surface of the turkey, including back.

Fill cavity with stuffing, but not tightly

Roast about 3 hours, basting often periodically and much more frequently during the final hour or so of cooking.

Remove from oven when the internal temperature on instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey leg hits 155 degrees (or, as my mom did it, when the red popper in the turkey pops.)

Allow to rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Serves 20.

-- Dorothy Kane

MUM'S STUFFING (Web-only recipe)

PG tested

This stuffing is perfect tucked into the pocket of a thick pork chop and wonderful as a layer on thin-sliced beef, then rolled into braciole. …

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