How to Make the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey


CHARLOTTE, NC – First, you want to start the process 36 hours before Thanksgiving Day. The purpose of brining (or marinating) a turkey is to infuse flavor into the entire poultry. When you season it, the flavor only penetrates so far, and when you inject a brine, it seeps through the hole and also doesn’t penetrate the whole bird. The brine will also keep your turkey very moist during the cooking process. For our brine today, heat some water and add the seasonings, then stir to dissolve: kosher salt, garlic, onion, ginger, bay leaves, whole cloves, and brown sugar. Let cool and add apple juice, orange juice and water. Clean your turkey and place it in a bucket or container large enough to hold, pour in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. After this time, pour in the brine and return the turkey to the container and refrigerate uncovered for 12 hours. If you are defrosting a turkey, do it in a pan in the fridge and allow about 24 hours defrosting time for every 5 lbs. of Turkey.

When you’re ready to start cooking, take the turkey out 1 hour ahead of time, place it in a roasting pan or skillet and lightly rub the surface with olive oil. If you grill/smoke I recommend a lighter fruit wood like apple, orange, cherry or maple rather than mesquite, oak or hickory. Plan to smoke only 25% of the time because poultry will absorb as much smoke as you give it and you want to taste seasonings with a hint of smoke, not just smoke. Heat your grill to high heat, put wood chips or pellets in the smoker box, when you see smoke coming out, turn off the burner under the box reducing the temperature to 325 degrees. Put a little broth in the bottom of the pan and place on the grill or in the oven breast side down and cook for an hour. After an hour, turn over and continue cooking. The general rule is about 15 minutes per book. The sugars will darken the bird, so if you want a lighter color, cover lightly with foil. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, your turkey is done, so check a few spots with an instant-read thermometer to make sure it’s cooked through. If you want to cook potatoes, carrots and onions in the pan, add it when there is about an hour and a half left. Let the turkey rest loosely covered for about 15 minutes plus before carving.

To carve, first cut the legs, cutting slowly to the joint, then the wing, and remove the thigh. Turn around and find the center of the breast bone and, using a boning knife, slowly cut along the bone, then on the underside to remove the breast. Slice the breast crosswise to obtain even slices.

For the sauce with this recipe, heat the chicken broth and stir in McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning or your own mix until boiling and reduce to simmer. Whisk corn flour Masa until desired consistency is reached. Corn flour tastes better and is gluten free.

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