It really doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving till you are preparing a turkey. This year, for our holiday feast, we test-roast a turkey with our version of the Crispiest Skin Turkey recipe over the traditional one, and the result came out quite marvelous. The meat inside is so juicy and tender with just the right amount of saltiness, flavor, and aroma. What amazed us the most was the skin was exceptionally tasty, crispy yet less on the grease.
Preparing a turkey for roasting is not hard; you have to pay attention to little details, and the turkey will turn out great regardless. There are many tips and tricks for making turkey, so spare with me for a longer post indeed.
First, you have to pick the right size of turkey for your party. Typically, a 10lb turkey can serve 6 and so on. If you have a small group, maybe get the smallest turkey possible, the breast would work too, but that’s another different story and recipe. Also, bear in mind that if you have a huge group for Thanksgiving, you might even have to do two turkeys.
After figuring out the turkey, plan ahead to give yourself sometimes. Depend on the turkey size, you might need anywhere from 1 to 3 days to defrost the turkey completely. You can choose to defrost it slowly in the fridge or soak in water and replacing the chilled water every 30 minutes. Either way, defrosting a turkey cost lots of time, so plan well ahead.
Next is on brining a turkey. There are wet brine and dry brine methods. No matter which method you chose, brining helps the turkey to absorb all the flavor and can produce juicier and tastier meat, whether it’s white or dark.
For this recipe, since we like our turkey skin crispier on the surface, I chose dry-brining with salt. The brine mixture is only composed of salt, pepper, sugar, and baking powder. These ingredients help absorb most if not all the moisture from the turkey skin while adding toward the taste.
Instead of stuffing, apple, onion, celery, and all the heirloom herbs were stuffed inside the main cavity to bring the meat flavor up. Then the turkey legs were truss and wings tucked to the back.
The whole turkey is then left sitting uncovered in the fridge for one day. On the day of roasting, the turkey skin will turn darker and thinner due to moisture loss. A mixture of syrup, garlic, butter, and dried herbs is used for glazing over the skin. I used Kerry gold European style unsalted butter due to its bold flavor would add so much richness to the skin. Syrup would help give the skin that nice golden brown color with a shiny sheen while not losing on the crispiness.
On the roasting note, make sure to adjust your rack to the lowest position; that way, the turkey will sit nicely in the center both horizontally and vertically. Also, place a piece of aluminum foil to cover the breast area halfway through to prevent over-roasting. If the turkey is too big, and your oven is not a convection type, you might want to turn the roasting pan 180 degrees to bake evenly when placing aluminum foil as well.
Also, don’t baste the turkey in between; the syrup glazing at the beginning will be shiny enough for presentation, so any extra basting will only reduce the crispiness within the skin. Bake it slow, you don’t want to rush.
When the roasting and the internal breast temperature reach at least 165F, take the turkey out of the oven and rest for 30 minutes. Don’t skip the resting period. This will allow any juice from the surface to flow back and prevent dried meat. Use this resting time to make your turkey gravy, stuffing, or even cranberry sauce.
Crispier Skin Turkey Tips & Tricks
- Defrost the turkey per package instruction
- Brine the turkey: rub it inside out and underneath the chest areas and pockets under the skin with salt & pepper.
- Let the rubbed turkey sit uncover in the fridge overnight to evaporate as much moisture as it could; if you are in a rush, use a dehydrator to speed up.
- Don’t stuff the cavity with stuffing. Bake it separately to easier control temperature and prevent soggily.
- Do stuff turkey cavity with onion, apple, lemon & herbs to increase the flavor.
- Let the turkey sit out to room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.
- Only glaze turkey with garlic butter & syrup mixture, no extra basting if you like crispier skin.
- Use a roasting pan or elevate the turkey with hard ingredients like quarters of apple, onion, lemon, etc. inside a disposable baking pan.
- Bake it at low temperature to prevent burning.
- Use a foil to cover the breast.
- Use a meat thermometer to check for turkey’s doneness.
- Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- Use the drippings and giblet for gravy; its flavor will be richer.
Garlic, butter & Herb Turkey with Crispy skin
- 10 lb whole Turkey
Dry Rub & Brine
- 4 Tbsp salt
- ½ Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 lemon
- 2 apples
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk celery
- ½ bunch rosemary
- ½ bunch thyme
- ½ bunch sage
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter melt
- 5 cloves garlic crush
- 4 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, thyme, and sage combined
(optional) Turkey Gravy
- turkey juice
- 1 cup unsalted chicken/turkey stock or water
- ¼ cup flour adjust to desired thickness
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- giblet & liver from the turkey
(optional) No Turkey Roasting Pan option – additional seasoning turkey stock
- 1-2 apple
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 lemon
- 1 bay leaf
Prep & Dry Brine Turkey
- Make sure the turkey is defrosted according to the label.
- Remove giblet & liver (usually in the neck cavity) and the neck bone in the main cavity. Save these for turkey gravy later if desired.
- Use a paper towel to blot dry both the outside skin and inside cavity.
- Combine salt, baking powder, sugar, and ground black pepper.
- Rub the above mixture all over the outside of the Turkey. Work your finger into the area underneath the skin in the neck cavity as well. Do it slow and carefully.
- Once done covering the turkey in salt/pepper mixture, pour the remaining into the main cavity, shake and use your hand to make sure all the inside cavity area is rubbed well with salt.
- Now chop and cut all the sweet onion, apple, and lemon into quarters, celery into 2-inch sticks, peel garlic, etc.
- Stuff all the above into the turkey main cavity as well as rosemary/thyme/sage.
- Use a piece of turkey tie or kitchen twine to tie turkey legs together.
- Tuck the wings to the back.
- Situate turkey with its breast facing up and chill in the refrigerator, uncover to brine and dry over night.
- Let the turkey out of the refrigerator to let it come back up to room's temperature.
- Flip the turkey over so its back is facing upward, if there any leftover water precipiated it will be mostly dripping out now.
- Right before roasting, prepare the roasting pan & rack or if you don't have one, create an elevated planar in your pan by arranging quarters of apple, onion, and lemon. These fruits & vegetables will add flavor to turkey gravy, so add a bay leaf to the pan as well.
- Melt butter, stir in crushed garlic as well as 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary/thyme/sage combined.
- Add Maple syrup in and stir really well, the mixture will become a bit thicker and ready to be used for basting.
- Baste this garlic butter mixture all over the turkey backside.
- Now flip the turkey over (breast side upward) and situate it onto the roasting pan or the prepared elevated fruits & onion.
- Baste the breast side with the remaining garlic butter mixture, go over each area carefully. Make sure to work into all crevice, under the wings/thigh area, etc. Cover them all.
- Adjust the oven's shelf to the lowest level.
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Place the ready turkey in the middle area and start baking.
- Bake for approximately 3 hours on a regular oven or 2 hours on Convectional oven or as label's suggestion by the bird's weight.
- When baking halfway through, turn the roasting pan 180 degrees, opposite to what you originally placed it. Then fold a piece of foil and place it to cover the turkey breast.
- Bake till the approximate total time, and check for doneness with a thermometer. Turkey's meat internally should reach 165F minimum.
- Once done, take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before any cutting.
(optional) Turkey Gravy
- Once the turkey is finished roasting/baking and rest, you can take the dripping for gravy.
- Slice and chop turkey giblet, liver and heart.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp butter or turkey fat from dripping.
- Stir in the sliced giblet, saute till it's almost done then add the heart and liver.
- Stir till the liver pieces are brown on the outside then add flour.
- Keep stirring until all piece are cooked and the roux (flour) is golden and cover all the piece well.
- Now pour in turkey dripping, taste test and and adjust with unsalted stock or water to dilute if the dripping liquid is too salty. Add more dripping if you want it saltier and so on.
- Remove from heat. Gravy will be thicker when cooling down, so just heat and stir till it lightly thicken enough.
- Only baste once with garlic butter syrup mixture before roasting, no need for additional attempt to preserve the dryness and hence crispiness of the skin.
- Do not open the oven frequently as this will only prolong the baking duration.
- Check the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is done.
- Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before any carving for juicier meat.