Cooking with the Caspers

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The Best Turkey Aunt Judi Ever Had

2017 was the first Thanksgiving the Caspers hosted. Mistakes were made, but great food was had. If you ask Mrs. Casper's Aunt Judi, the pumpkin pie queen, she'll say this is the best turkey she's ever had. Take one look at the ingredients list, and you'll know why. Make sure you start this the day before Thanksgiving!

Ingredients:

 

1 Turkey, about 25 pounds (ours was 27!)

Turkey Brine

3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider

2 gallons Cold Water

3-4 sprigs each of Thanksgiving herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1-1/2 cup salt

2 cups brown sugar

3 tbsp peppercorns

5 whole bay leaves

Peels of an orange and a lemon

Shallot, sliced in half

Ice, one small bag

Turkey Skin Filling

2 pounds bacon

1 pound butter

2-3 tbsp chopped Thanksgiving herbs

Salt & Pepper

Gravy

Drippings from turkey

About 1/4 c flour

32 oz beef stock

32 oz turkey stock

Salt & Pepper

Method:

1. Combine all brine ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Using a large tub (we used a cooler!), cover the turkey with ice, and add brine. Cover and let brine overnight.

3. EARLY the next morning, remove turkey from brine and soak about 15 minutes in clean cold water. Rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels.

4. Combine skin filling ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until bacon is finely chopped and incorporated with butter and herbs.

6. Starting at the neck, carefully peel up the skin from the turkey. Work gently with your fingers down and across the breast, and to the legs. You should be able to lift the skin without breaking. Leave it in tact on the far ends! You're basically turning your turkey skin intoa giant meat pocket. 

7. Work the butter and bacon mixture under the skin, making sure to get an even layer all the way onto the legs.

8. Once the skin is stuffed, add your stuffing into the bird and tie the legs together gently with kitchen twine.

9. Pat the skin dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper.

10. Place the bird in your roasting pan, breast side up (we did breast side down our first year accidentally, turns out that's a method too!). Tent loosely with foil, and roast at 325 degrees for about 2/3 of the cook time. When 1/3 of the time is left, remove the foil and let the skin crisp up. (Rule of thumb- at 325, cook about 15 minutes per pound. Add 15 minutes every time you open the oven.)

11. When the thicker parts of the bird are at 160 degrees, your bird is done! Rest it on a large cutting board for about a half hour.

12. Pour the bacony turkey drippings into a large saucepan. Add flour until there is a medium thickness, and cook on low, whisking frequently. Once this roux is a medium golden brown, slowly whisk in both stocks. Season generously and to taste with salt and pepper. Let thicken until you have the consistency of a good, hearty gravy.

13. Look up how to butcher the bird online. Take at least 3 family members' unsolicited advice about slicing. Fend off pickers with a sharp fork, lest no dark meat make it to the table.