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The Minimalist: The Only Five Things You Need to Cook a Delicious Thanksgiving Turkey

Faux Martha's Thanksgiving Turkey

I am 45, and despite having my own family, I have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey before. Shocking, right? When I was younger, my dad would roast the bird (some years, it was chicken, which better suited my parents’ Asian palate). And since I married, my in-laws, who live close by and have a larger home, have regularly hosted the holiday. All of which is to say, I know nothing about cooking a turkey.

For those of you in a similar (gravy) boat, we present The Faux Martha‘s Melissa Coleman, who is here to tell us what we need—and nothing more—to roast a delicious turkey. Here, in her words, the five essentials for a killer bird.

Featured photograph by Melissa Coleman, courtesy of the Faux Martha. (Click here for her fail-safe turkey recipe.)

1. Kosher Salt

Morton Kosher Salt
Above: A 48-oz box of Morton Coarse Kosher Salt is $2.38 at Walmart.

“Soaking your turkey in a salt solution, a brine, is an easy and inexpensive way to insure a juicy and flavorful outcome with very little work. You’ll need a navy blue box of coarse kosher salt for this recipe. ”

2. Brining Bag

Williams Sonoma Brining Bags
Above: Williams Sonoma’s Brining Bags are $13.56 for a set of 3.

“In order to completely submerge the turkey in the brine, you’ll need an extra large brining bag. Place the bag in a Dutch oven or large stock pot for easy transportation. Add the bird and then the brine. This is a two-person job. Carefully tie the bag closed, and soak in the fridge for 24 hours before roasting. I’m hoping by next Thanksgiving that someone will come out with a compostable brining bag.”

3. Roasting Pan

Le Creuset Large Roasting Pan
Above: Le Creuset’s Large Roasting Pan with Non-stick Rack is currently on sale for $241.99 at Macy’s.

“I’ve always opted for a disposable roasting pan for easy cleanup and zero storage. You can literally fold the pan in half and discard. However, I’m considering purchasing a reusable stainless steel roasting pan this year to lessen my trash waste. The leftover turkey carcass also makes for a delicious stock. Add it to a Dutch oven and top with water. As you cook Thanksgiving, save leftover food scraps, like the end of the carrot and onion, and add to the stock. Sprinkle with a bit of turmeric for added color. I have a simple recipe for this in my book The Minimalist Kitchen (page 107).”

4. Silicone Roasting Rack

Silicone Roasting Rack by OXO
Above: OXO’s Good Grips Silicone Roasting Racks are $15.97 for two on Amazon.

“When I’m not roasting a large piece of meat, I use these roasting racks year around as trivets. They stack on top of each other for easy, minimal storage and wash clean in the dishwasher.”

5. Leave-In Thermometer

OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision Analog Instant Read Meat Thermometer
Above: OXO’s Good Grips Chef’s Precision Analog Instant Read Meat Thermometer is $10.71 on Amazon.

“With a really good brine, there’s no need to baste the turkey and lose heat energy from opening and closing the oven while cooking. For that same reason, you’ll want a trusty leave-in thermometer to know when the turkey is ready. You can’t trust the timer on this one.”

For more from Melissa, check out:

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