Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate tradition, eat great food and create lifelong memories. One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is the Myth of the Second Turkey.
As reliable as the presidential turkey pardon, every Thanksgiving, as each fully-satiated, stuffed-to-the-gill family member began showing signs of a Tryptophan coma, my Dad would sarcastically question my Mother, “Should we bring out the second turkey?”
Of course, there was no Second Turkey waiting in the wings. It was a humorous nod to our gluttonous holiday tradition. The call for the Second Turkey marked the end of Thanksgiving dinner, like the fat lady singing.
As new Thanksgiving memories and traditions are made, especially in a world with more food bloggers than Black Friday sales, the Second Turkey may not be such a myth after all.
For one, Alton Brown suggests cooking turkeys that are fifteen pounds or less because longer cooking times required for larger turkeys can create a dry bird. If you have a big family — or even a small family with big appetites — you’re going to need more than one fifteen pounder!
For another, with the first turkey earmarked for traditional flavor profiles, the Second Turkey provides a blank canvas on which creative home cooks can push the flavor profile envelope. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional Thanksgiving preparations. But that doesn’t mean I can’t give in to a little culinary promiscuity. And besides, what is Thanksgiving without leftovers?
So this one’s for you, Dad. Bring on the Second Turkey!
Ingredients for Cajun Spice Rub:
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Ingredients for Turkey Cavity Filling:
1 crisp apple
1 jalapeno pepper
1 green onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Rub
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Ingredients for Turkey Base:
1 medium carrot
1 rib celery
1/2 medium onion
2 TBSP melted butter
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
This recipe is for an 8-10 pound turkey. Follow package instruction for thawing if frozen, usually 48 hours in refrigerator. Cajun Spice Rub makes about 3 TBSP. For a larger bird, double or triple the Cajun Spice Rub. Consider serving with Sweet and Spicy Cornbread Dressing.
PREPARE THE TURKEY:
1) Remove turkey from packaging.
2) Locate and set aside neck and giblets package from inside the turkey cavity.
3) Rinse turkey with cold water and completely pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
4) Roughly chop carrot, onion and celery for turkey base.
5) Arrange vegetables in the bottom of roasting pan.
6) Place turkey on top of vegetables, breast side up.
PREPARE THE CAVITY FILLING:
1) Cut apple into large pieces, seed and cut jalapeno into strips, dice green onion and halve garlic cloves.
2) Add one teaspoon oil to saute pan over medium heat and add all ingredients.
3) Toss to coat and saute just until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.
4) With tongs, remove ingredients from pan and insert most of the mixture into body cavity and a small amount into neck cavity.
5) Tuck wings under turkey to secure neck flap.
6) Tie legs together with butcher string.
SEASON THE TURKEY:
1) Combine all ingredients for Cajun Spice Rub in a clean, dry bowl and set aside.
2) Melt butter and brush all exposed area of the turkey.
3) Generously coat turkey with spice rub mixture.
ROAST THE TURKEY:
1) Place seasoned, filled turkey into a preheated 325(F) oven for 2.5 hours or about 15 minutes per pound.
2) Turkey is done when thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh reads 170(F). Take care not to touch the bone with thermometer, as this temperature will read higher than the meat itself.
3) Allow bird to rest 10 minutes or more before carving.
4) A spicy gravy can be made with roasting pan juices.
Serve with Sweet and Spicy Cornbread Dressing.
MORE GREAT THANKSGIVING RESOURCES:
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Butter and Garlic
Mashed Potatoes – Three Ways
Cranberry Potato Gratin
Roast Turkey for Beginners
How to Make Gravy
Barbara Fairchild’s Pumpkin Pie