A few years ago I came across a novel idea: to flavor the turkey under the skin. For nearly 20 years I'd been seasoning the top of the turkey. In hindsight, that was plain silly as I don't even eat the skin! I remove it, then I'd simply season my cooked meat with salt and pepper. So much for the flavor!
Somehow, somewhere I came across a recipe that came from the Food Network's site that gave a recipe for seasoning under the skin. Two years ago I tried it for the first time. The turkey was unbelievably amazing! Boy, had I been missing out for all those years!
If you're a skin-ripper like I am, you might want to try this simple seasoning method.
Herb Seasoning Rub For Turkey
1 TB dried sage
1 TB dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground marjoram
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
4 bay leaves
1/4 C olive oil
3/8 C canola oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
Before I get the turkey out, I get out all my supplies, so that when I have "poultry hands" I don't need to open drawers and spread germs around.
- four plain gallon baggies (I use these like gloves for handling the turkey)
- sharp thin knife (paring, boning)
- basting brush (can use hands too...they actually work better)
- herb mixture in a small bowl
- bleach water (for clean up)
- paper towels (I use lots of these when I'm prepping turkey)
- dish soap pump container
- trash bag out for turkey gunk
- roasting pan
- foil: two long pieces to cover turkey in the end
Find the large opening (where you'd put stuffing), and carefully slide your knife between the breast and the skin. Try not to nick the breast, but it's not that big a deal if you do. What you're trying to do here is lift the skin, opening it up as much as possible. You should be able to easily reach across the top and sides of the breast from this opening.
Next, create 1-2 slits through the skin on the other end of the turkey. This is so you'll be able to reach down along the sides and all over this area. Again, once you cut through, you'll have access to the whole breast area.
Using your basting brush, dip it into the herb mixture and start spreading it under the skin. I started with the brush but gave up and used my hands as it was a lot easier to spread the herbs that way. Place the bay leaves in a couple spots (you'll remove them after cooking).
Once your rub is under the skin, it's time to close up the slits you made. The easiest thing to use is a small metal skewer, but toothpicks will do in a pinch! (Also use the skewers/toothpicks to hold down your wings so they don't get burned.)
If you're like me, this won't be a tidy process. You will probably have the herb rub all over the turkey, under and over the skin! I just spread the drips out evenly over the top, in case there are guests who actually do eat the skin. And, yes, I usually have drips on my counter too!
Onto the clean up! I am anal about prepping poultry and the clean up. The first thing I do is thoroughly clean and clear the counters and sink. Next, I make sure to carefully contain my mess. As mentioned above, I have all my stuff out, ready to go so I'm not opening drawers and touching stuff in the kitchen. After the turkey is safely in the fridge, I wipe down the counters/sink with paper towels. Then I give the whole area a hot soapy bath. Once dried, I spray with a fresh and cold 10% bleach water solution. (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).
Now, it's ready for cooking. At this point, you can baste/not baste, use a foil tent/roasting bag...whatever you're preferred method is. The key is, you've sealed in the flavor!!
So...if you try this, let me know what you think!
Happy Turkey Day!