Monday, 19 November 2012

First Roast Turkey of the Season

I am always honoured when people ask me to cook for their parties... and when such cooking opportunity presents itself, like the saying, I grab on to it and don't let go...

I was asked to roast a turkey for a birthday party and I think the timing couldn't be more appropriate as the Season's Eatings is upon us and for my American friends, Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner... 

I did not grow up eating turkey in Indonesia.  Indonesian turkeys are often prized as "show birds", not for eating.  I had my first turkey when I lived in the States where I also celebrated my first Thanksgiving over ten years ago now... and it's such a great tradition (what is not to like about a day full of eating?), I carry on celebrating it every year.  I get some questions about roasting turkey from Indonesian friends, so I hope this post would help.  

Here's the truth: brining works! and I confess I used to think brining is just a waste of time.  But, I gave it a go a couple of years ago and I am a convert.  Brining does make a difference.  It ensures the turkey is juicy and so tender... and the great thing is, the prep takes no time and effort.  Last Christmas I used a more elaborate brine with herbs and spices and all things Chrismassy a la Nigella.  But, the brine I most often use is just a simple salt water solution.  The ratio is 60 grams of salt for every litre of water.  And you don't need an instruction on pouring salt to a bucketful of water... 

Brine the turkey overnight in the fridge.  The next day, remove the turkey from the liquid and pat dry with kitchen towel.  The turkey is seated inside a roasting tin, on a platform of celery sticks and carrots which will add to juices for the gravy later.  I smeared the turkey all over with softened butter, over and under the skin; and I put lemon halves, garlic cloves and fresh thyme inside the cavity.

Preheat the oven  to highest heat and roast the turkey for 15-20 minutes to get the colour going... then I turned it down to 180 C and cook for a further 30 minutes per kilo.  

I don't own a meat thermometer, but it's pretty easy to tell if the turkey is fully cooked.  I use the jiggling the leg method, which means if the legs (drumsticks) jiggle easily, well, it's cooked.  Also the juices should run clear when pierced with a fork or knife at the base of the legs and thighs.   

Let the turkey rest under a blanket of foil to let all the juices go back to the centre, even though it is very tempting to eat it straight away... Now, the carving of the bird.... I dread this task every time because I am a terrible carver, I admit.  So, you shouldn't really be getting carving advice from me.  You need Martha Stewart. 

Anyway, back to the turkey I cooked for the party as pictured above... it was a huge success and all the compliments are music to my ears.  Come on, you know you love the compliments too :)

American readers and friends, how will you cook your turkey this Thanksgiving day? and do you brine your turkey?

Have a great day!


  1. This looks absolutely stunning. And I totally agree with you about brining . . . I was sceptical and am now a complete convert!

  2. The "jiggling the leg" method is new to me, but one I shall use on Christmas Day with all the solemn courtesy that such a professional title requires!
    Looks delicious Michael!

  3. have yet to brine a chcken/turkey but its on the to do list for the next one I cook.

    thats one tatsy looking turkey

  4. Hi, Michael
    Brining, to my way of thinking, is essential for both any poultry and pork as well. I've roasted many a bird over the years and decided that the next time I will dismantle it and cook it in pieces so as to control the timing for the breast and dark meat separately. Glad your party was a success.

  5. No turkey brine here but it sounds great! I've roasted many turkeys in the oven for Thanksgiving, but this year I'm roasting 2 turkey breasts in the oven and a turducken on the grill. Thanks for this post, I want to try brining!

  6. i've never brined but am thinking about it this year, so glad to know it went well for you... and what a gorgeous looking bird it it too... I've also seen a spatchcock turkey recently which looks like a great idea, although you'd need an industrial oven to cook it in!

  7. I am a firm believer in brining.. but I was like you, I always thought it was a waste of time... so not true.. I now look at it as practicing patience :)
    The turkey looks amazing! Nicely done :)

  8. I didn't grow up eating turkeys in singapore either. don't really feel anything special on this special day for many, but any excuse for turkey ;) I will definitely look into brining now, will keep in mind for xmas :)

  9. Your turkey looks lovely. I was persuaded by someone around 10 years ago that I should try brining the next time I roasted a turkey. I haven't roasted one since - still, one of these days.

  10. Michael, I was carefully reading your method of brining use for the turkey, which does give moistness and the most tender meat. This year I bought an organic turkey which already has been brined, and I follow the same method as you...always, with the roasting, and I do the same with roasted chicken, and beef, as well.

    You did an outstanding job on your roast turkey, and I know you certainly enjoyed it. Don't know if you celebrated Thanksgiving in Indonesia; but at any rate, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

  11. great Turkey and love the zebra cake and cool you lived in the States sorry its been a while always enjoy your blog

  12. This stunner of a turkey would make any party a success! We don't make turkey enough here is Australia. Cheers for the brining tips