One of my favorite holiday movies is Christmas Vacation. Specifically, the scene where the whole family is gathered around the dinner table waiting excitedly to cut open a beautifully roasted turkey. Except, when Chevy Chase's character goes to carve the bird, it basically explodes because it's overcooked. I laugh so hard every time I watch that part of the movie, but only because it's never happened to me.
I think the big fear when cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving is overcooking it and having a dry-ass bird or undercooking it and giving your guests food poisoning. Neither are ideal. But cooking a delicious bird isn't nearly as scary or hard as it seems. Who said you have to cook an entire turkey anyway? You can get the same great flavor with turkey pieces, and they cook so much quicker.
With this recipe, your total cook time is about 1 hour and 45 mins give or take. Adding white wine and chicken stock (not broth!) help the meat to maintain its moisture while the herbs and seasonings provide all the aromatics you want in a traditional turkey. Using this method, you can also make an insanely delicious gravy using the pan drippings.
This is truly a dish that I think might just change the way you make your turkeys from now on. I know you'll have a few questions, so below you'll find some answers that I think will help you out.
Do I have to use wings and drums?
Nope! You'll notice that I cooked all drums and wings but that's because that's what I could find at the grocery store. You can cook any assortment of parts you want and this recipe will work. If you're feeling confident, you'd save money by buying a whole turkey and breaking it down or asking the butcher at the grocery store to do it for you. Call ahead if you're planning on doing this just to make sure that's a service your butcher offers.
What size sheet pan do I need?
Glad you asked. So here is the deal, most standard ovens can only comfortably fit half-sheet baking pans and those measure 18″ x 13″. If that's what you have at home, you'll need two to pull this recipe off. I used this slightly larger 20" x 14" and it comfortably fit all of the turkey pieces.
Can I use whatever white wine I have at home?
Ehhh, likely yes but I used an unoaked chardonnay. You could also use a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris. Nothing too sweet or flowery though. Basically, if you're drinking it and can spare 1 cup for the turkey, have at it.
Do I have to use chicken stock? Can I use broth?
I'm going to have to say no here. You have to use stock. Stock just has more flavor because its made with bones as opposed to broth. You can find a good stock in almost all groceries stores but I have an obsession with Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock. A few years ago, I did a blind tasting of grocery store stocks and this McCormick-owned brand blew the competition out of the water. It's all I use and recommend it to you as well in this dish but if you can't find it and go with something else, you'll still be fine.
Damn, that much salt sis?
Yes. You'll notice that the seasoning blend calls for 3 tablespoons of salt (among other things) and yes you're going to use the entire seasoning blend on this turkey. We don't believe in bland food over up in here.
S.O.S my turkey is getting too brown!
Grab some foil stat! If for some reason your turkey is cooking too fast and getting too brown, you can always cover it with foil.
My turkey is looking a little dry in the oven
If you feel like it's getting too dry and there isn't enough liquid in the sheet pan, add about a half a cup of chicken stock and that should do the trick.
Whether you're a seasoned Thanksgiving pro or this is your first time hosting dinner, this recipe will not let you down.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
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