So my nephew is getting married this weekend and my sister-in-law asked me to help cook up a couple turkeys for the luncheon. I’m relatively new to the baking of turkeys, but I must say I’m pretty happy with my ‘recipe’ so far.
I mentioned on Twitter this morning what I was making and a couple folks asked for the recipe and pictures. Well, that post came after the bird was in the oven so I don’t have any pictures of the prep process. Maybe next time. I did take a couple quick snaps of the finished bird though.
As far as the recipe goes, I didn’t really measure anything so the amounts could be a little off.
Things you’ll need:
- 1 – big turkey (this one is 22 lbs)
- 1/2 bag – frozen cranberries
- 1 lb butter
- 1 12-16oz package bacon
- ~1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 can – chicken broth
- Marinating syringe
- Large baking pan
Follow the directions on the package. Let it thaw about a day out if it is totally frozen. Remove the presents that are packed inside the cavity of the bird (I say throw them out, they’re gross!). Rinse the bird off (inside and out) in the sink with cool water and then pat dry with paper towels. Place in a big pan. I like the single-use aluminum ones. Pour the can of chicken broth into the pan. It doesn’t need to go on the turkey, it’s there to provide moisture in the form of steam as the turkey cooks. Preheat the oven to 325. Note – preheating the oven should happen as you start injecting the turkey with the cranberry-butter goodness, not when you start to thaw the turkey
Place about a third of a stick of butter in a skillet on medium-low heat. Once the butter has all melted, pour the cranberries into the skillet and stir them around so they get coated with butter and are evenly distributed in the pan. As the cranberries cook they will get soft and start to break down. The butter will start to turn red as the juices are released. When the cranberries get very soft, start crushing them with a spoon to get the rest of the juices out. Add about half a cup of water to keep them from drying out. After all the berries are crushed add a whole stick of butter and stir until it is evenly blended into the cranberry juice. Give it about 5 minutes and then remove it from the heat. Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and blend the berries for a moment till it has something of a smoothie texture.
Now that the buttered-berry pulp is mixed, pour it through a fine sieve back into the skillet to strain out the berry skins. You can speed up the process by stirring the berries around in the sieve with the back of a spoon. On low heat add the rest of the butter and the a 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir until blended. Taste to see that the bitterness has been tempered with the sugar. We’re not going for a cranberry sauce sweetness here, we just want to cut the bitterness of the cranberries.
Put the butter/berry mix in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate over night. The next day stir the butter to make sure everything is blended. Take half the butter and put it into a sauce pan over low heat. We’re not trying to cook this, we just need it to melt so we can inject it into the turkey.
Season the turkey-
After putting the turkey into the pan empty the can of broth into the bottom of the pan. The broth is really there to help keep the turkey moist. Using your hand, gently separate the skin from the breast. Spread a couple handfulls of the cranberry-butter between the skin and the meat. I also like to spread some over the outside of the skin on the breast and the thighs. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the butter.
Now take the syringe and fill it with the melted butter/berry sauce. Stick into the meat about an inch and deep or so can push the sauce in. Repeat this many times all over the bird. This is key to keeping the bird moist and getting the cranberry flavor spread throughout. You don’t need to use all the mixture but I try to make at least a dozen injections.
Take 1 or 2 dozen toothpicks and soak them in water (this helps them to not burn when they are in the oven).
Drape the bacon over the turkey breast and thighs at a 45 degree angle and slightly overlapping. Pin it in place with a toothpick at one end. Put a couple slices on the thighs.
Crumble about 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the whole bird.
Wrap in foil and place in the oven. You may have to remove one or two of the oven racks depending on the size of the bird.
For a 22 lb turkey I cook for about 5 hours and 20 minutes. I go about 5-10% longer than what is recommended on the manufacturer’s instructions because of the pound or so of bacon that we added. I take the foil off for the last 20 minutes or so and bump the heat up to 350-375 to make sure the bacon browns a little.
When it’s done, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks. Kitchen shears that have a bottle opening grip are pretty good for removing these if you can’t get a good grip on them with your fingers.
Lastly, enjoy! This is probably the best turkey you will ever have outside of a good turkey avacado sub.