Monday, November 19, 2012

Bacon Butter Stuffed Thanksgiving Turkey

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I'm often asked for the recipe for my Thanksgiving Turkey. I posted this last year but here's a repeat:

1. Buy yourself a big ol' turkey, preferably one from the store unless you like killing them yourself. I usually go Butterball myself, and almost always around the 20 pound mark.

2. Take your turkey out of the freezer about 2-3 days before the big day. You'll need around 12-18 hours for brining, so figure that into the defrost schedule. Put the turkey in a big container in your fridge to thaw, and ignore it for several days.

3. A few days later when the turkey is nice and defrosted, take it out of the fridge and give it a nice water bath.

4. Make sure to pull the bag out from the inside

5. Rinse and set aside while you make your brine (I've used Pioneer Woman's brine recipe for the last few years but I make a few adjustments to the amount of salt, plus I add mustard seeds and I cut the apple juice out completely.)

6. Take a big bucket (Matt bought one off of a sandwich shop a while back. They get them when they buy pickles in bulk and we bought ours off of them for like two bucks. Doesn't hurt to ask.) Clean the bucket, then add a large (unscented) trash bag. Put the turkey in the bag and pour the cooled brine over the top. Tie the bag, put the top on the bucket.

7. Place bucket outside (or in your garage if it's cool enough). It needs to be kept cold, but not freezing. If it's not cold enough in your area, put ice in the brine (or around the bag inside the bucket). You can also just do up the brine in your fridge if you have enough room. Leave for 12-18 hours, or overnight.

8. You'll make your bacon and herb butter the same day as the brine (or days ahead, doesn't matter as long as it has time to harden before the big day). Take a package of bacon and chop it into small pieces, then place into a kitchen aid mixer and three sticks of (cold) butter roughly chopped. Allow it to mix for about fifteen minutes. Scrape down the sides every so often, and by the time the fifteen minutes are up the bacon should be pulverized and mixed into the butter completely. Add in your choice of herbs. I use a little bit of rosemary, sage, savory, parsley and of course garlic. Mix together. Then scoop out the butter onto a large roll of plastic wrap and form into a log. Wrap tightly and stick in the fridge to harden.

9. Take the turkey out of the brine, rinse and lightly pat dry.

10. Slice the bacon butter into small circles and slide under the skin of the turkey . . . all over. You'll have a little butter left over at the end (good for sauteing veggies for your stuffing or just anything else). I even cut slits in the legs, wings and thighs and put a good chunk of the butter underneath.

11. Preheat oven to 275, and stick the turkey in a roasting pan covered with foil. Cook for 3 1/2 hours, then remove foil and increase temp to 375 for another hour or until temp (deep in the thigh) registers are 165.

12. Remove turkey, cover with foil again and then allow to set for about a half hour to an hour before cutting up. Use juices for making gravy (but be sure to taste as you go because between the bacon, the butter and the brine it'll already be super salty.)

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