Since I did not do Thanksgiving meals this year for retail (the last couple of years doing these by myself was tough), I thought I would share how I prepare my roast turkey with you.

Everyone has their preferred methods and recipes for their holiday turkey, here are some of my own methods and tips that you can work into your own recipe.


Holiday Entrée: Roasted Turkey – The Lunch Guy Way

1

BRINE

Turkey – Salt – Sugar – Water – Reynolds turkey-roasting bag

Use a brine folks! It is well worth the time if you want your turkey to be as moist and tender as possible.

For the brine, I simply bring a small saucepan of water to boil. I then add 1 cup of salt and ½ cup of sugar into the boiling water to dissolve. Pour this into a larger pot and add ice until fully cooled. 

After washing well, place your turkey in a roasting bag that has been opened inside a large pot (easier to maneuver and a life-saver if the bag leaks).

Pour your cooled brine into the bag – making sure to cover the turkey. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, you can even leave it overnight. If you are going to brine overnight, then simply make your brine a little “weaker” so you do not over tenderize and end up with a mushy turkey. You can punch up the brine with herbs if you prefer, I typically do not as I use my brine to ensure moisture and tenderness while getting the flavors through other methods like Tip #2 on Compound Butter

2

COMPOUND BUTTER

Butter – Salt – Pepper – White wine – Herbs (Thyme & Sage)

It is very common to rub butter under the skin of the turkey before roasting. Well, this is a fantastic opportunity to add flavor! I mash softened unsalted butter into a bowl, add salt, pepper, a couple of dashes of white wine, whatever herbs feel right (usually a little thyme and sage). Mix this well and then fill underneath the skin before roasting. Save some to also rub the outside of the skin.

3

CAVITY

Sprigs of Fresh Herbs – Lemons – Apples – Oranges – Butter 

Don’t ignore the cavity! – If you are like my family, we were raised on dressing. (Traditionally dressing is baked separately in a pan while stuffing is baked inside the cavity of the turkey.)

And even though we did not use the cavity for stuffing, it is still a good opportunity to keep building those layers of flavor! Add whole sprigs of fresh herbs, lemons, apples, oranges, more butter, whatever you want! Be creative. However, even if you do not choose to do this, at the very least be sure to salt the inside of the cavity well. Do not ignore the cavity.


Festive Appetizer: Butternut Squash Bruschetta on Polenta Medallions

This is a basic “starting point” recipe. Jazz it up to your liking by adding diced apples or pears, toss the ingredients with a little of your favorite brandy or even a couple of tablespoons of applesauce before roasting, use on traditional toasted bread/baguettes instead of polenta, etc.

Ingredients

2 cups butternut squash, diced

6 tbsp olive oil, divided

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

½ tbsp Molasses

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 tsp black pepper, divided

1 tubular package of Polenta

4 tbsp balsamic reduction

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tbsp olive oil and the next 8 ingredients. 
  3. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the squash is roasting, slice the polenta into ¼” medallions. I prefer to pan sear with a little olive oil, but they can be brushed with olive oil and roasted on a cookie sheet with the squash if you like.
  5. After preparing ingredients, simply top each polenta medallion with the squash mixture, drizzle with a little balsamic reduction, and enjoy!

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