TALKING SCHOP! #Thankful

Kysha Harris | 11/13/2014, 12:43 p.m.
Our Kysha Harris gives a recipe for the perfect Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Greetings from beautiful Barbados! I have a lot for which to be thankful—warm, clear blue waters, white sands, the welcoming Bajan spirit and someone with whom to enjoy it all. Vacation never comes when you want it, but it is always right on time.

Oh, and the food—the food! The markets have inspired serious cooking, and eating up the bounty that is Barbados. I am reminded of our upcoming American holiday, where we give thanks for our bounty. In preparation of our day ... the turkey recipe.

Give yourself three days lead-time to brine, season and cook your bird. This recipe is for an 18 to 20 pound bird (giblets removed). Adjust as needed.

BRINE

7 quarts (28 cups) water

1 1/2 cups coarse salt

6 bay leaves

3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1 bottle dry white wine

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh rosemary

Take care that it is submerged in the brine and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Remove the bird from brine and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. You have two options. Option 1: If time permits, season the bird (see instructions below, can use your own seasonings), cover and refrigerate for another 24 hours before proceeding to next step. Option 2: If time is limited, remove the bird from the brine and proceed to next steps.

Let the bird come to room temperature, at least two hours before seasoning (if you chose option 2) and cooking. Fold wing tips under turkey and place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan and let stand.

SEASONING AND BASTING

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

3 sticks unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons softened

1 bottle dry white wine

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine sticks of butter and wine in a saucepan and warm until melted. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters, a 4-layer (18-inches square) and immerse in mixture; let soak.

Liberally season cavity with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. (SCHOP! Tip: An unstuffed/herb-stuffed—rosemary, thyme, sage—turkey decreases cooking time). Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with softened butter, liberally season with salt and pepper.

Spread soaked cheesecloth evenly over the breast, about halfway down the sides of the turkey. Place turkey legs first in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for two and a half more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices. If the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After the third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so breast is facing back of oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. Baste fragile skin carefully! Cook one hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After the fourth hour, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without poking bone. The temperature should reach 180 degrees and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving pan juices. Let turkey stand 30 minutes before carving.

SCHOP! Tip: To prevent stringy sliced breast meat, after letting the turkey rest, cut the entire breasts off the bone, then slice each breast against the grain. Slices will be moist, and each will have some of that decadent skin.

I think this #thankful feeling will stick around for a while.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.