The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Round-up!

The Holidays are upon us! While in just 6 short weeks we will all be doing wall sits and lunges while drinking our health shakes and tracking our meals in our fitness apps, we are currently in the glorious (guilt-free) season of indulgence. So January resolutions not withstanding, let's talk Thanksgiving Feast! 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The joy starts first thing in the morning watching the Macy's parade. The parade is legendary with its thrilling and inspiring musical acts, creative floats, and larger than life character balloons! Cooking with friends and loved ones fills the afternoon with so many memory-making moments. Trust me, cooking with someone is the fastest way to determine if you have compatible energy! Finishing the day enjoying the fruits of your labor with a once-a-year feast pulls it all together. What a wonderful way to celebrate and share gratitude for life's blessings! 

Roasting the turkey has become one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. Now I'm no culinary genius, but I can follow a recipe just fine! I even enjoy throwing my own twists on a recipe from time to time. I'm here to tell you the secret to the juiciest, more flavorful turkey you've ever roasted is hiding in Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey Recipe. I've been following this recipe every Thanksgiving for at least 5 years now. Follow this link to see Alton's recipe, and I beg you... please watch the 4 minute original Good Eats video at the top of the recipe. It's both informative and Alton's corny antics are timeless.

If you stop reading here and click that link above, you will be on the path to the best turkey ever! Read on for my expanded thoughts and tips regarding Alton's method, AND my favorite turkey recipes for working through all those leftovers!

The Brine:

Alton's method begins with brining the Turkey overnight. This step is ESSENTIAL for a juicy turkey. The brine helps the meat hold moisture during roasting and fills it with flavor. As I type this blog post, my brine is prepared and cooling in the kitchen, ready to be used later tonight with my 14lb turkey! Don't skip the brine! While I fully trust Alton Brown, I have done this enough years in a row to know I can skip the candied ginger and all-spice berries in the brine. I substituted a few shakes of ground ginger and skipped the berries all together. This simply allows me to avoid purchasing a couple of ingredients that I will literally have no other use for all year.

The Roast:

You can plan on your smoke alarm going off while using Alton's roasting method. He has you start the bird in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes, before covering the breasts and finishing the roast at 350 degrees until the internal temperature is correct. Alton can explain why this is necessary, so be sure to watch his video. However, I can share my experience. For the first 15 minutes or so of roasting at 500 degrees everyone in the house will be so intrigued by this method and think you must be some sort of chef. After about 15 minutes though that bird is really going to start smoking a LOT! If your stove is not equipped with an exterior venting hood, you'll want to have a plan to mitigate smoke in your home. At this point everyone will be thinking you are ruining Thanksgiving. Open a window and have a fan ready. Trust me, the end result is worth all the turmoil! 

Blake and I avoid aluminum whenever possible. With some reports drawing a link between cooking with aluminum and memory altering diseases, we just don't want to take any chances. That's the reason we've transitioned away from deodorant containing aluminum, but that's a story for another day. This is the ONE time each year I use aluminum while cooking. I literally keep a roll of it around just to cover the turkey breast during the annual Thanksgiving roast. There's just no other method as effective for targeting heat protection only in the breast region, which is essential for those juicy results! 

Read through Alton's recipe and definitely watch the Good Eats video! There's still time for you to execute this recipe this year and be a Thanksgiving hero with super juicy and flavorful turkey! 

My Favorite Leftover Turkey Recipes:

Having delicious turkey on Thanksgiving is great, but having a plan to use up leftovers helps reduce waste! The iconic post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich is a staple for sure, but here are some recipes we used last year to work through many pounds of leftover meat. Note: You can freeze the turkey immediately after Thanksgiving and use these recipes in the future, that's what we did! 

 Turkey Chowder:

This turkey chowder was DECADENT. I followed the recipe, except I swapped vegetable broth for turkey broth because I don't keep meat broths in my pantry. I also swapped heavy cream instead of half because I like not being able to button my pants! 

Turkey Casserole:

There's nothing slimming about this Turkey Casserole, but golly is it TASTY! I didn't make any substitutions here, but I likely skipped the peas. I don't recall eating peas in a long long time, so I'm doubtful I purchased them for this recipe. 

In Review:

That's all folks! If you've made it this far, you must be bored! Blake and I will spend the day today decorating the spa for Christmas and putting the final touches on all our fun plans for our Blake Friday Sale! We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

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