Several years ago, we stumbled upon the turkey recipe that has become our family tradition. With no basting required and always turning out moist and juicy meat, we've not had a bad turkey in over 10 years!
Our 'secret' to this amazing turkey? Adding a layer of salt pork and allowing its fat to render into the turkey, creating juicy meat and crispy skin that is a gorgeous golden brown. Follow this recipe to have a beautifully cooked bird to celebrate your Thanksgiving!
Bella Vista's Roast Turkey
1 package cheesecloth (2-yards)
4 cups cold water
1 turkey, 12-14 lbs, neck and giblets reserved; use a natural turkey, not self-basting (otherwise it may become too salty); if using self-basting, use all water in gravy rather than combination of broth and water
1 lb salt pork, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
note: start making gravy as soon as the turkey goes in the oven
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Reserved turkey neck and giblets
1 onion, chopped
5 cups water
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
6 tbsp all purpose flour
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove cheesecloth from package and fold into an 18-inch square. Place cheesecloth in a large bowl and cover with water.
Tuck wings behind back and arrange turkey, breast-up, on a V-rack set inside roasting pan. Using a fork to prick, pierce the skin of the turkey breast and legs all over; this will help the rendered salt pork to moisten and flavor the meat.
Cover the entire breast and tops of the legs with strips of salt pork.
Remove cheesecloth from water bath and drape it over the salt pork on the breast and legs. Pour any remaining water from cheesecloth bath into the roasting pan.
Cover cheesecloth completely with heavy duty aluminum foil; this prevents the cloth from drying out and burning, and protects the breast meat.
Roast the turkey until breast meat registers 140 degrees F, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Remove foil, cheesecloth, and salt pork, and discard.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Continue to roast turkey about 40 to 60 minutes longer, until breast meat registers 165 degrees F and thigh meat registers 175 degrees F.
Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest 30 minutes.
As soon as turkey begins roasting in oven, heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook turkey neck and giblets until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in water, broth, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 hours. Strain stock into large measuring cup (should have about 3-1/2 cups), reserving giblets if desired.
Carefully strain contents of roasting pan into fat separator. Let liquid settle so that fat separates and then skim, reserving 1/4 cup fat. Pour defatted pan juices into measuring cup with giblet stock to yield 4 cups stock.
Heat reserved fat in empty saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in flour and cook until honey colored and fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Slowly whisk in giblet stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Chop giblets and add to gravy, if desired, and season with salt and pepper.
Carve turkey, serve with gravy and enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving with your nearest and dearest!