Wherever in the world you may be, I imagine that you’ve either been in a complete lockdown, partial lockdown, or some sort of quarantine for the past several years, I know we have. With the world as we know it grinding to a halt and pretty much all travel cancelled, It’s been 2 long years since we have traveled down south for the winter (thanks COVID, ya filthy animal). So, it’s only natural to be counting down the days to when we can all jet off again, us included! To be honest, we have made plans, cancelled them, made them again, cancelled, made them, cancelled…….more times than we can count. But, I feel that the time is near, at least nearer than it’s been for 2 years so we have started planning yet again for our warm sunny winter.
That’s not to say that there isn’t stress involved though, particularly with both of our health issues. As my readers know, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005 but what you may not know is that my husband has been battling a chronic illness of his own in silence for many years, and recently it has really taken a toll on him. We have made some significant changes to our lifestyle over the years including traveling to warmer weather during the long-wet winters we face on our little island here in Canada, but there is so much more to consider regarding travel for us. For one, is it safe for us to travel in respect to being on immune suppressing medications? How can we reduce our risk of exposure while traveling? What happens if the world takes another unexpected turn, and we end up having to make a run for the border like we did in 2019? How do I manage coming home for my medical treatment, because with all the border rules changing daily, it is bound to be an additional challenge?
So, while there is a lot to think about along with a considerable amount of faith, we think we have covered all our bases at this point. The biggest thing we have done to ensure we are as safe as we can be is that we traded in our truck and trailer for a Motorhome. This means we don’t have to pack up, hook up, unpack, unhook, etc. It will be much easier for us to manage and the comfort level and ability to have everything we need easily accessible is going to be so nice. The fact that it has a huge fuel tank will mean we won’t have to fuel up nearly as often and we can park every couple of hours and rest for as long as needed. I can make lunch on the road, use the bathroom without having to step over a bunch of stuff or having to go into restaurants, so we are very much looking forward to this new to us way of traveling! We have all necessary vaccinations, travel insurance, we will have enough medications for the duration of our trip (except for me coming home every so often for my infusion but I am still working on the details of that). On top of all of that, we will follow every precaution that we currently follow at home in Canada so I’m thinking we have done all we can and will continue to do to keep us safe. Wish us luck!
But first……..Christmas is just around the corner and I wanted to share my new found method for cooking a turkey, which I did at Thanksgiving leaving me with the confidence in saying that I will NEVER again cook a traditional roasted turkey or whole chicken if I can help it. This method cooks in about ½ the time as traditional roasting and although it may not be as beautifully presented at your holiday table, we dish up buffet style anyway and the juiciness and even cooking time makes it a win-win, leaving more time for our goal of the holidays, which is to spend less time in the kitchen (even though I love cooking, and do it every chance I can) the holidays for me is about family and this cooking method gives me more time making memories with them. I’m sure you will feel the same way – so, please give it a try and let me know how it works! And if I don’t get back on here before we head out in January, may your Christmas bring you peace and happiness and may 2022 be everything that makes you happy! Thanks for spending time with me, I sure appreciate you all!
Roasted Butterflied Chicken or Turkey (Dry Brined)
- Sharp poultry scissors
- Cooking rack
- Large rimmed baking sheet
- 1 Whole Chicken or Turkey 3 ½ - 4 lb chicken or 12-14 lb Turkey (my turkey was 17 lbs and turned out great!)
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable, Canola or Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- Spices See note below for options
Roasted Butterflied Turkey Ingredients
- 1 12-14 lb Turkey (butterflied according to directions below). Backbone, neck and giblets removed I had an 18 lb turkey but used the same timing method adjusted for the larger size
- 3 - 4 Large Onions Roughly chopped
- 4 -6 Stalks Celery Roughly chopped
- 12 - 14 Sprigs Thyme
- 2 - 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
- I use a good sharp pair of poultry shears but good heavy duty scissors will work on smaller birds
- Position the bird so it is upside down on the cutting board and holding if firmly with one hand (using paper towels to hold the bird in place can help). Make a cut down one side of the backbone, starting where the thigh meets the tail.
- Cut around the thigh. If you hit the thigh bone, don't panic, just shift the shears inward slightly toward the back bone to cut around the thigh bone instead of trying to cut through it. Continue cutting through the ribs until you completely separate one side of the back bone.
- Repeat on the second side
- If all goes well, you will have completely removed the back bone. Ue your fingers or shears to remove any large pockets of fat and to remove any exposed red marrow from the cut bones.
- Flip the bird back over and tuck the wing tips underneath the breasts to help keep them in place.
- Splay the bird out then place your palms firmly on the breasts (get your mind out of the gutter) and press down hard on the ridge of the breast bone until it lies flat. Turkeys will require a little more effort and you may hear a few cracks. The bird is now ready to dry brine and roast.
Dry Brine - Dry Brining is the easiest way to have beautiful crispy skin and juicy flavourful meat. And much simpler than other brining methods using a large pail or cooler of salted water. This method is the same for both a chicken and a turkey.
- Carefully loosen the skin by running your hand or the handle of a wooden spoon between the skin and the breast meat, starting at the base of the breast.
- Rub roughly 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound of meat all over it's body and under it's skin (or use one of the rubs listed below)
- Place the bird on a rack set over a large plate or rimmed baking sheet ad refrigerate uncovered, overnight (or up to 48 hours if cooking a turkey)
- After brining time, cook as directed skipping or going light on the additional seasonings
Roasted Butterflied Chicken
- Adjust an oven rack to the upper - middle position and preheat the oven to 450°
- Dry the chicken throughly with paper towels. Rub the chicken all over and under the skin with the oil. Season with salt and pepper (or with one of the rubs listed below) going easy on the salt if you have dry brined the chicken.
- Set the wire rack on the a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil. Position the chicken so that the breasts are in the centre of the baking skeet and the legs are close to the edges.
- Roast until the thickest part of the breast close to the bone registers 145°F on an instant read thermometer and the joint between the thighs and body registers at least 160°F (which should take 35-45 minutes for a 3½ - 4 lb chicken)
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10n minutes, then carve and serve. Save your bones for chicken soup or my favourite, homemade broth.
Roasted Butterflied Turkey
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan with tin foil.
- Scatter the chopped veggies and thyme sprigs across the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top of the vegetables
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Loosen the turkey skin from the breasts and rub the turkey all over and under the skin with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season liberally all over with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt if the bird was dry brined. Tuck the wings under the bird, place it on the rack (be sure that it doesn't hang over the edge of the pan) and press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the breasts slightly.
- Roast, rotating the pan occasionally, until an instant - read thermometer inserted into the deepest. part of the breast registers 150° and the thighs register at least 165°, about 80 minutes. (I had an 18 pound turkey and I cooked it for 108 minutes), so figure about 6 minutes per pound. If the vegetables start to burn or smoke, add 1 cup of water or broth to the roasting pan.
- Once the turkey has reached the above temperatures, remove from the oven and tent the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving,
- Pour any collected juices from the roasting pan or baking sheet through a fine mesh strainer and use for your gravy base.
- Carve the turkey and enjoy!
Leafy Herb Rub
- Parsley, basil, tarragon, cilantro, etc. Finely chop ½ cup of fresh herb leaves by hand or in a food processor. Combine with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter to make a paste. Separate the skin covering the breasts from the meat. Rub the herb mixture all over the chicken or turkey including between the breast skin and meat.
Woody Herb Rub
- Thyme, Rosemary, Bay Leaf, etcSeparate the skin covering the breasts from the meat. Place whole herb sprigs inside the carcass (or under and on top of the chicken or turkey if butterflied). Discard the herb stems before serving.
- Garlic, shallots, scallions, chivesFinely mince enough of the above in a food processor or by hand to make2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons. Combine with 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter to make a paste, Separate the skin covering the breasts from the meat and rub the mixture all over the chicken, including between the breast skin and meat prior to cooking.
- Combine 1 to 4 teaspoons of your chosen spices (I like garlic powder, pepper, freshly ground mustard seed, pepper flakes, onion salt, Pink Himalayan salt) with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter to make a paste, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar if desired. Separate the skin covering the breasts from the meat. Rub the mixture all over the chicken or turkey and under the skin.