Turkey, Oh Happy Bird!

First, let me say thank you to Nigella Lawson for the basic recipe and description.  Nigella, as one of my expanding core of IBFF’s*, you gave me the tools for the best turkey ever!

You can find the whole basic recipe here.  YAY!  Though, I’ve used my copy of her book Feast since 2005.  I like to write in my cookbooks, it lets me know what went right, wrong and what I changed that I liked.

My favorite cookbooks get used, and over time a bit dirty.  I try to keep them clean, but stuff flies and splatters.


Allow me to introduce the guest of honor:


Lets call him Bob.  So, there’s Bob, all 19.32 pounds of him.  Bob is from Maple Lawn Farms.  We have to strip Bob of his white plastic outer coating in order to do flavory things to him.  Let’s read the back of the package:

We will enjoy Bob.  You are welcome.

So, once out of his plastic wrapper, I washed Bob, gently and thoroughly in cold water. Here is clean Bob.

Then I added the Maple Syrup, Honey and Salt to a bowl, added some hot water to get them dissolving together, becoming brine.

Next, there were lemons, oranges and limes to be halved.

Please don’t judge me for my old, yellow formica countertops.  I’ve got new countertops in my kitchen.  They just live in my head right now.

To the left you can also see the quartered onions, smashed garlic cloves and smushed ginger rounds in the bowl.  The glass?  Smasher and smusher, it works for me.  Under the book is the rest of the parsley.

Now, the spices!

Bay leaves, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, juniper berries, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and cloves.

I thought we had some star anise, but I must have used them up.  The beauty of this recipe is that I just use whatever I want.

My herbs!  All of these are still growing in my garden.  Rosemary, sage and thyme.  The rosemary I found a couple of years ago, it’s a hardy kind that just grows and grows.  And it smells so amazing.  The thyme is a peculiarly hardy and robust kind that I think is trying to take over the world.  The sage isn’t so hardy, but it keeps coming back.

Cranberries.  Don’t ask me why, but the acid in these little garnet jewels does wonderful things to a poultry.  Of course, you have to chop them up.  Which means one of two things, you either slice them one at a time or you live with some of the little suckers jumping right off your cutting board.  Also, they make a really fun sound when you cut them, a little pop.

Here it all is, in all of it’s amazingly fragrant glory.

Then I added it all together, poured some water over top and got this:

Now Bob will live in my garage in the tub surrounded by ice until the early morning hours of Thursday when I will daub a bit of butter and wrap a few slices of bacon over him and tuck him into a warm, 450 degree oven for 30 minutes and then decrease it to 350 for the rest of the time.  I still haven’t figured out when Bob goes in, but I promise I’ll take pictures for you.

Good night Bob.  Sweet, fragrant and juicy dreams!

*IBFF – Imaginary Best Friend Forever

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3 Responses to Turkey, Oh Happy Bird!

  1. Brandi says:

    That looks so good! Just the ingredients floating in a pot look wonderful. I’m not doing the turkey this year, but maybe I’ll have to go get a small one just to try this. I assume this makes the meat all flavory and moist, whereas other recipes just flavor the skin.

    I need a Nigella cook book.

  2. Dana says:

    Oh wow, VL. My mouth is watering! …and here I thought I was being so adventurous this year by using *both* tangerines and rosemary for the cavity. I admit it. I’m a culinary wimp but am feeling totally inspired by you.

    p.s. and I find it rather unfair that Nigella is not only endowed with beauty but also great culinary skills. I think she has taken more than her fair share!

  3. vivianlouise says:

    Brandi, it was that same sort of picture in Feast that drew me to the recipe. Plus, it’s just easy, seriously easy. You just dump everything in a pot with the turkey and walk away. Assuring of course that it’s properly cooled. And the answer is yes, this method flavors the entire bird, meat and all. It’s not overwhelming, just scented and juicy.

    I’m with you on the Nigella front, Dana. Were I given to such things, I’d have a girl crush. As it is, she’s just my BFF in my mind. Kinda the same way I date Clive Owen in my mind. The other thing I really appreciate about her cookbooks is that the methods and recipes all originate in a home kitchen. They aren’t translations of restaurant food.

    Dana, this is a really, really easy method.

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