Behold! I give you quite possibly the easiest Thanksgiving turkey recipe ever.
Keep in mind I did not say the fastest but the easiest one I’ve ever made, and I’ve made my fair share of turkeys like this one, and this one, and even this one. They were all good but they all took the kind of effort you’d expect for the centerpiece of the year’s most important meal.
Let’s go back to one year ago today when I was eternally washing dishes and listening to turkey roasting tips from Ariane Daguin when she said she poached her turkey before roasting it. What the what?!!! In her beautiful French accent she explained how briefly poaching the turkey the night before in a rich broth infuses the turkey with loads of flavor and not only that, you are pre-cooking it ever so slightly which cuts down significantly on the roasting time, resulting in a juicier bird.
Well, I knew that was the turkey for me. I was willing to go the extra mile for such a glorious-sounding bird but to my pleasant surprise it turned out to be so much easier than your average Thanksgiving roasting affair.
There are no special bags, no brining, no basting, it takes about a quarter of the time and bonus, you are left with boatloads of delicious turkey broth that you can use to make soup with the leftovers! The only, ever-so-slightly, annoying thing is that you do have to let it sit in the broth overnight. So you will need to A: Have a lidded pot big enough to fit the turkey in. And B: Have enough room in your refrigerator for the pot. Or if you live in a cold enough climate (like me) you can put it on your front porch or non-heated garage, as long as it is 30°F or colder outside.
Then the next day you place that baby in a roasting pan and roast it at a pretty high heat for only—get this— 30 Minutes! That’s it! And then turn your oven off and leave the turkey to finish gently cooking from the residual heat.
I tell you that skin was so shatteringly crisp and gorgeous I think I shed a tear. And the meat was tender and soaked with lime and garlic and pepper and bay. I went with Mexican-inspired flavors but you could add anything you want to the broth. Basic carrots, onion, celery are gorgeous or you can go really exotic and add cinnamon stick, dried chiles, or saffron. Have fun with it but just remember, no recipe will make up for a crappy turkey so make sure you buy one that hasn’t been jacked up with saline solution or any other weirdness. In my opinion, organic, free-range is best.
Recipe inspired by D'Artagnan
This recipe works best, logistically, for smaller birds. Anything bigger than 14 pounds becomes a bit cumbersome unless you are blessed with an enormous fridge.
If you'd like to make the roasted butternut squash and charred scallions as seen in the pictures, lay thick slices of squash on a baking sheet, toss with oil and salt and roast at 425°F for 20 minutes then place under the broiler for a minute or two to brown. For the scallions, toss with oil, salt, and pepper and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-4 minutes or until lightly charred.
- 3 onions, sliced
- 3 jalapeños, stemmed and cut in half
- 2 heads garlic, cut in half
- 2 tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 bunch cilantro
- Juice of 4 limes
- 10 fresh sprigs oregano
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 (10-12 pound) whole fresh or defrosted turkey, neck and giblets removed
- Combine all ingredients except the turkey in a pot large enough to hold the turkey. Fill halfway with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add the turkey and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, then remove pot from heat and let turkey cool to room temperature (about 4 hours). Refrigerate turkey in broth overnight.
- Heat oven to 400°F. Take bird out of the pot and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes then turn oven off and leave turkey inside for 1 hour.
- Remove turkey, let rest for about 15-20 minutes, slice and serve.