It's not too soon to start talking turkey for Thanksgiving
After I moved to the United States in 1973, one of the many interesting American phrases I learned about was "to talk turkey." I discovered it traced all the way back to colonial times, and most explanations suggest it was first spoken by a Native American after a settler he had gone hunting with tried, with some deceitful talking, to cheat him out of the larger of the two game birds they had bagged together.
So, "talk turkey" generally means to get right to the point. And those words start taking on a very literal meaning now, with Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away.
I think it's very important to talk about your Thanksgiving turkey as soon as possible for two key reasons. Knowing how you plan to cook the bird will help you plan all the other dishes you'll be serving before, alongside, and after it. It also makes good sense to order your turkey as soon as possible to make sure you get a fresh one that's the right size -- count on around 1 1/2 pounds (750 g) per person, which will also give you some leftovers -- as well as properly raised, grain-fed, humanely processed, and free of artificial ingredients such as preservatives or food coloring.
As you'll see from the following recipe, these days I generally like to cook a turkey fairly simply. Instead of brining it overnight, which for most people can be an inconvenient process, I take more basic measures to ensure tender, juicy results.
I spread a quickly prepared butter, seasoned with fresh rosemary, under the skin covering the breast, which helps keep the leaner white meat from drying out during the long roasting process. I also place the turkey on top of a bed of aromatic vegetables, which helps the oven's heat circulate evenly under the bird while it cooks while also flavoring the juices that collect in the roasting pan. And, following an initial 45 minutes of undisturbed roasting time, I baste the turkey every 20 minutes with the flavorful pan juices, helping to keep the meat moist while also promoting a deep golden-brown skin.
Speaking of moisture, I think a little sauce served with the carved turkey is an ideal way to add extra juicy flavor to every single bite. One of my favorite sauces is based on the widely available bottled juice of pomegranates, a fruit in season right now whose deep ruby color and tangy, tart-sweet flavor is perfect for an autumn feast.
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I hope my recipe inspires lots of happy talk about the turkey around your Thanksgiving table this year.
ROSEMARY BUTTER-BASTED WHOLE ROASTED TURKEY WITH POMEGRANATE SAUCE
1 whole turkey, about 20 pounds (10 kg)