Nothing says Thanksgiving more (to me at least) than a delicious, crunchy-skinned, tender and moist meat turkey. Mmm...
Not sure how to handle a turkey? No problem! Here's how I cook my bird; it comes out flavorful and juicy EVERY TIME!
1 turkey of your size and choice (I'm on the Storehouse brand)
1 cup butter (softened) or oil (not as yummy, but doable)
1 Tbsp salt
Any herbs/spices you might have laying around (I like garlic powder, sage, oregano, and even basil)
Uncooked stuffing (optional)
Carrots, celery, onion, cut in chunks (double if not using stuffing)
Make sure your bird is thaw! This can take a few days in the fridge, or overnight in a water-in-the-sink kind of deal. Otherwise your hands are going to be VERY cold... Brrr!
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Take half of your vegetables and place in the bottom of your roasting pan. On a cookie sheet, place your bird, starting with breast up. Wash your hands!
Mix up your butter, herbs, spices, and salt. I love using my hands for this; they're going to be messy in a bit anyway!
Go back to your turkey. You're going to separate the skin from the meat. Take off all your rings and bracelets. Wear gloves if you have a sketchy nail polish job, or better, remove it entirely! Nail polish flecks are not good eats. Also, take out any timer that might have come with your bird. You can stick it back in later if you like.
Starting at the neck, carefully lift up the skin and break the mucousy stuff that connects the skin to the meat. Keep your fingers close to the meat so you don't puncture the skin. Work all the way back to the legs, then do the legs! Don't worry about getting your whole arm in there... Once separated, the skin is VERY stretchy and flexible. It can take it! When you've separated all the skin from the breast, thighs and legs, flip the bird over and do the back side the same way. If having your entire forearm under turkey skin freaks you out, you can often come from the tail end for part of the process.
Once you've separated all the skin, it's time to butter up Old Tom! Take a few fingerfuls of the butter mixture and put it on the meat under the skin. Get it all over under there. When you're done with the backside, flip it back over and to the top side. When that's done, take your greasy hands, and give that bird a massage on top of the skin. Now take either your stuffing or the rest of your veggies and stuff them inside the old bird. Not too tight with the stuffing! You want it to cook all the way through. You can put the timer back in if you want.
Now stick that bird in the oven! Check on it in an hour or so. When it's browned, you'll want to tent it with foil. Then leave it in until the time is up, or your timer pops, or the thermometer reads the right temperature (follow the directions on the wrapper, or look it up online!).
When Tom's all cooked, set him out on a platter on a counter to rest a bit. (Being cooked is exhausting!) Strain the cooking juice through a fine mesh strainer or possibly a flour sack towel, and start making that gravy (recipe to follow). Toss the veggies, unless they look really appetizing to you. Pull out the stuffing and keep it warm in the oven. When the bird has rested 30-45 minutes, you can start carving. I like to pre-carve as much as possible so I can just concentrate on eating.
Watch how the bird drips with juice as you cut through. Taste the moist white meat, and the tender and extra flavorful dark meat. Best bird ever! Give thanks, and enjoy!