Why It Pays To Season Turkey Under The Skin

Let's be honest here, the joy of Thanksgiving primarily revolves around food. Sure, family, giving thanks, and decorative pieces are important too, but the food is literally the centerpiece of the whole event. No table is complete without stuffing, mashed potatoes, some form of greens, cranberry sauce, and of course, turkey.

Succulent, juicy, and oh-so-tender, turkey is well worth the many hours of labor and cooking time. Though roasting the bird in an oven is a popular method, the University of Illinois Extension also emphasizes that grilling, frying, braising, and even barbecuing are all excellent cooking options for those who enjoy creative spins on traditional turkey dinners. Heck, there are even beer-can turkey recipes for those who enjoy grilled beer-can chicken.

But no matter what method you use, it's important to season the turkey thoroughly, unless you're craving bland, flavorless turkey meat for the holiday season. Many home cooks opt for seasoning the outside of the turkey, as well as inside the cavity, and while this is fine, we have an even better idea for an extra boost of flavor.

The meat itself will be flavorful, not just the skin

Yes, seasoning the skin of the turkey is important, but what happens when someone either eats the skin or peels it off? They're left with unseasoned, bland turkey meat underneath, which can only be saved with some turkey gravy or a dash of salt and pepper. That's where butter comes into play, or rather, compound butter.

Webstaurant Store states that compound butter is composed of unsalted butter and various seasonings and/or herbs. The butter is typically softened so all those spices can be incorporated, which can then be used for turkey, steaks, chicken, fish, corn, and so many other dishes. Butter adapts exceedingly well to so many ingredients, so you can make something simple like garlic herb butter, or a sweet pairing like cranberry orange zest butter. 

Good Housekeeping explains that the compound butter can be rubbed above and below the skin of the turkey, which makes the seasoning more pronounced and the meat more tender and juicy. To do so, just use your fingers to push through the turkey skin, which will loosen it, via BBC Good Food. Rub the butter under the skin as best as you can, then pat the top of the turkey over the butter to "seal" it, and don't forget about the drumsticks either. This small extra step will make a world of difference and have all your guests asking how your turkey is so juicy and flavorful.