To Turkey or Not to Turkey

By | November 23, 2011

Hubs loves Thanksgiving food. He’d eat it for every holiday, special occasion, or random meal he could get it. And I’ve been holding off on making anything like it because he has such high expectations and I don’t want to compete with his memories of the perfect turkey.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than hearing, “It’s not like Mom used to make.” Not fun.

Plus, I’ve heard lots of horror stories of what a pain it is to cook a turkey, and just how easy it is to mess it up, dry it out, or get it just plain wrong. I wouldn’t say I was scared, but I certainly wasn’t eager to try it out.

But Friday night was the annual potluck-style Thanksgiving meal for our friends and it was mentioned that a turkey would be missing from the table. I didn’t want to take it on, but after much encouraging from Wyatt, and talk of having ham (which since Wyatt doesn’t like at all, really got him trying to convince me), I gave in and headed to the grocery store.

I came home with this:

It's as big as my head. And do I look scared? Nope!

Since there was going to be so many other dishes there, and probably another meat, whether ham or chicken, or whatever, I just got a turkey breast. It was basically a small turkey with the legs and wings cut off, about 5.5 pounds.

I had no idea what I was doing so I just set out trying to copy and combine several ideas and recipes I’d seen. Here’s what I learned in the process.

I used an apple, carrots, and onion on the inside cavities, and a butter and herb mixture on the outside to help with flavor and getting that great golden brown skin. (In my family, the skin is what most of us fought over before dinner. Yum!)

In the oven, fingers crossed!

I had read that roasting the turkey breast side down (instead of the usual way with that side on the top) keeps the white meat more moist and juicy since all the juices run down. So I tried it, and flipped it over halfway through the cooking process so the skin could get nice and brown as well. And I brushed it with the melted butter mixture (butter, thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and apple juice) every fifteen to thirty minutes.

Mmmm....melted herb butter.

Pretty soon,  (well, not “soon,” so much, considering it took like 2 and a half hours) it looked like this:

Ready to carve!

In the meantime though, I had fun watching these:

(Not homemade, frozen, but I didn't have enough notice for homemade, and they were still delicious)

Turn into this:

Ready to bake!

And by this time, Wyatt was home from work so he could help me carve. He’d never done that before, either, but I told him about Alton Brown’s tips, and he dug in.

He was excited since he got to use a big knife.

(P.S. Notice the wedding ring on the counter…I moved it to the shelf, and told him that, but he still forgot it that night. He blames me. I say, “how can you not notice it’s not on your hand? It drives me crazy when I don’t have mine!”)

And we ended up with this:

It tasted even better than it looks, so we were both pretty happy with our first turkey efforts.

And we got the wishbone!

Success!

And yes, my night didn’t end up so well, considering the way I spent all Saturday morning. (Maybe I should have wished to not get super sick!) But we had a great time Friday night with friends, laughing and hearing old stories, and eating good food, despite whatever got me…

So, even though I’m not sure if I’m ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner again (hopefully tomorrow!) I’m happy to report that the turkey adventure wasn’t so scary. Hubs pretty much only ate that, so I think it’s safe to say he liked it.

In fact, I think I wouldn’t be scared to try it again sometime!

What about you? Are you scared to cook a turkey or are you a pro? Either way, I’d love to hear about it!

2 thoughts on “To Turkey or Not to Turkey

Join in with a comment! (Let's all agree to be constructive here, okay? Thanks!)