I haven’t had to prepare a Thanksgiving meal since many years ago. The past 5-6 years we have spent Thanksgiving with our “adopted” relatives in New York. I remember, though, last Christmas when I considered cooking turkey for our traditional big Christmas Eve dinner at home. I studied tons of recipes and, indeed, I almost did Nigella’s recipe for “juicy” turkey. Nigella suggests getting a big bucket to put the turkey in water with salt, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, berries, caraway seeds, cloves, star anise, mustard seeds, onions, sugar, ginger, maple syrup, honey, orange, and parsley. Then let it take a “bath” for a day or better two before putting it in the oven. And then it just struck me as I was thinking where to keep a backet full of turkey for two night. Seriously? Two nights and fifteen different types of spices and aromas to get a decent turkey? What’s the point of cooking it? If that’s what you have to do to make turkey tasty, then why even bother? This year, we got a free turkey from the supermarket so I kind of had to cook one. I remembered the ole’ good recipe I used when I cooked Thanksgiving dinners. A recipe by Chrysa Paradisi. It’s the simplest, yet most satisfying recipe of all with just the turkey. Try it. Any time of the year. All you need is salt, pepper, butter, and cheesecloth.
- 1 turkey (about 12 pounds)
- salt, pepper
- lots of melted butter (two sticks)
- (optional) a cup of beef broth
- (optional) rosemary, thyme, or other flavorful herb
How to make: Wash the turkey well and tie its legs. Apply salt and pepper generously. You can reach under the breast skin and put some salt and pepper there, too. Place the turkey on a rack in pan. Melt the butter. Saturate a piece of cheesecloth in the butter. Cover the turkey with the cheesecloth. Add a cup of water or a cup of beef broth in the pan. Add some rosemary, thyme, or other flavorful herb in the water. Now cover the turkey with aluminum foil forming a kind of hat around it. Make sure the foil does not touch the turkey. What you want is to cook the turkey in the steam that the water will generate and the foil will trap. Cook the turkey in a 375F/190C oven for about 4 hours. Mine was 19 pounds and it took 5 and half hours to cook. About an hour before it’s ready, remove the foil and the cheesecloth to allow the turkey to brown. Baste the turkey with the liquid from the bottom of the pan. When it is ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes. When you cut the turkey, add some more pan liquids to the cut pieces in lieu of gravy. Ready!