I am 45, and despite having my own family, I have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey before. Shocking, right? When I was younger, my dad would roast the bird (some years, it was chicken, which better suited my parents Asian palate). And since I married, my in-laws, who live close by and have a larger home, have regularly hosted the holiday. All of which is to say, I know nothing about cooking a turkey.
For those of you in a similar (gravy) boat, we present The Faux Marthas Melissa Coleman, who is here to tell us what we needand nothing moreto roast a delicious turkey. Here, in her words, the five essentials for a killer bird.
Featured photograph by Melissa Coleman, courtesy of theFaux Martha. (Click here for her fail-safe turkey recipe.)
1. Kosher Salt
Soaking your turkey in a salt solution, a brine, is an easy and inexpensive way to insure a juicy and flavorful outcome with very little work. Youll need a navy blue box of coarse kosher salt for this recipe.
2. Brining Bag
In order to completely submerge the turkey in the brine, youll need an extra large brining bag. Place the bag in a Dutch oven or large stock pot for easy transportation. Add the bird and then the brine. This is a two-person job. Carefully tie the bag closed, and soak in the fridge for 24 hours before roasting. Im hoping by next Thanksgiving that someone will come out with a compostable brining bag.
3. Roasting Pan
Ive always opted for a disposable roasting pan for easy cleanup and zero storage. You can literally fold the pan in half and discard. However, Im considering purchasing a reusable stainless steel roasting pan this year to lessen my trash waste. The leftover turkey carcass also makes for a delicious stock. Add it to a Dutch oven and top with water. As you cook Thanksgiving, save leftover food scraps, like the end of the carrot and onion, and add to the stock. Sprinkle with a bit of turmeric for added color. I have a simple recipe for this in my bookThe Minimalist Kitchen(page 107).
4. Silicone Roasting Rack
When Im not roasting a large piece of meat, I use these roasting racks year around as trivets. They stack on top of each other for easy, minimal storage and wash clean in the dishwasher.
5. Leave-In Thermometer
With a really good brine, theres no need to baste the turkey and lose heat energy from opening and closing the oven while cooking. For that same reason, youll want a trusty leave-in thermometer to know when the turkey is ready. You cant trust the timer on this one.
For more from Melissa, check out: