This is the best recipe I have ever found for Roast Turkey - and the one that I will use forever!
The fresh herbed and roasted turkey always turns out moist, flavorful and PERFECT every time! I have tried so many techniques and recipes, and this one is guaranteed! I've learned a few tricks thru the years, and I'm happy to share with you!
After years of roasting turkeys, I now only start with a FRESH Butterball turkey or other organic turkey. I always bring the day before with my Apple Cider Turkey Brine recipe.
Herbed butter is placed both UNDER the skin of the turkey and slathered on top.
I use fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley) and fresh vegetables (onions, celery, carrots and garlic) and a fresh orange and apple (YUP!) to stuff the bird before roasting, together with some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and chicken broth.
Allow 12 minutes per pound for roasting. If you prefer, you can also cook in a turkey cooking bag, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. The secret to great flavor is roasting this LOW and SLOW!
Once the internal temp reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read digital thermometer (measuring on the inside of the thigh) remove from the oven and cover the top tightly with heavy duty foil. Let it rest a full 30 minutes before you carve, and you will have the juiciest most flavorful roast turkey to share with your family and friends!
Hope that you enjoy this classic as much as we do every year!
12 – 18 pound whole turkey (I prefer Butterball Fresh Turkeys)
Apple Cider Turkey Brine (see Snowflakes & Coffeecakes recipe)
8 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 onions (peeled and quartered)
2 stalks celery (chunked)
2 carrots (chunked)
1 orange (unpeeled, cut into quarters)
1 apple (unpeeled, cored and cut into quarters)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 sprig/bunch fresh thyme
1 sprig/bunch fresh sage
1 sprig/bunch fresh rosemary
1 sprig/bunch fresh parsley
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
Herbed Turkey Gravy:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Herbed Butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups turkey drippings/juices
HOW I MAKE THIS:
TWO DAYS BEFORE ROASTING:
· PREPARE APPLE CIDER TURKEY BRINE according to Snowflakes & Coffeecakes recipe directions.
DAY BEFORE ROASTING:
1. Remove the turkey’s giblets, neck and tailpiece – look in both cavities and make sure you remove everything so that you don’t have any surprises when serving! New food safety guidelines suggest that you don’t rinse your turkey, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you do rinse your bird, pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place turkey in a large brining bag. Carefully place turkey & brining bag into a large clean container (*see Cooking Notes), with the open end of the brining bag on the top.
3. Pour cooled Apple Cider Turkey Brine into the brining bag over the turkey. Make sure the brine fills the cavity of the turkey and covers the turkey by squeezing out any excess air in the bag. If your brine needs more liquid, top it off with equal amounts of apple juice and ice water. Place the turkey in a refrigerator or cold location for 16 to 24 hours.
THE NEXT DAY:
4. Heat oven to 400 degrees and arrange a rack in the lower third of your oven.
5. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Thoroughly rinse turkey in cold water, inside and out, for 5 to 10 minutes – this removed excess salt. Pat exterior of turkey dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side up on wire rack set in a large roasting pan.
6. Prepare Herb Butter. Mix all Herb Butter ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons of Herb Butter in another small bowl, cover and refrigerate.
7. Season the turkey’s cavity with kosher salt and pepper, place fresh herbs into cavity. Stuff half of the chunked onion, celery, carrot, garlic, apple and orange inside the breast cavity as well.
8. Gently loosen the skin on the turkey’s breast by gently running your fingers between the skin and meat, taking care not to tear the skin. Loose the skin on the breasts starting at the large cavity end and go halfway, then rotate the turkey and repeat on the other side until all the breast skin is loosened.
9. Using your hand, place 1/3 of the Herb Butter mixture evenly UNDER the skin of the breast, gently press on the skin to spread the butter evenly; rotate turkey and spread another 1/3 of the Herb Butter on the other breast side. (You can also use the back of a wooden spoon, but your hand just works easier for this task so that you don’t rip the turkey skin.)
10. Spread remaining 1/3 Herb Butter over the top of the turkey including drumsticks and wings. Flip the turkey over so it is BREAST SIDE DOWN on top of the roasting rack. (NOTE: If you are using a turkey roasting bag rather than a roaster, place 2 tablespoons of flour inside roasting bag and then place turkey in roasting bag BREAST SIDE DOWN.)
11. Sprinkle remaining vegetables, apples and oranges around outside of turkey. Tuck wings behind back of the turkey and tuck tips of drumsticks into skin at tail to secure (if they are not already secured).
12. Pour 2 cups of chicken broth into bottom of roasting pan and place in oven.
13. Roast the turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN at 400 degrees for 45 minutes uncovered. Remove pan from oven and turn oven temp DOWN to 350 degrees. Wearing silicone oven gloves or using 2 bunches of paper towels, rotate turkey so that it is now breast side up.
14. Baste the bird with pan drippings every 30 minutes. If it looks like the chicken broth is getting low, add 2 cups water to bottom of roasting pan. Continue to roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on meat thermometer (measure the temperature on the inside of the thigh – making sure not to touch the bone). Allow about 12 minutes per pound for roasting or refer to the following:
WEIGHT TOTAL ROASTING TIME
8-12 pounds 1.5 to 2 hours
12-16 pounds 2 to 3 hours
16-20 pounds 2.5 to 3.5 hours
20-25 pounds 3 to 4 hours
15. Cover turkey loosely with heavy duty aluminum foil once the turkey is golden brown to prevent the skin from burning.
16. Remove the turkey from the oven, keep tightly covered with foil and let it rest 30 minutes before carving.
17. Add contents of roasting rack (drippings and liquid) to a Gravy Fat Separator to skim off fat when poured. Pour bottom liquid broth into a large measuring cup until you reach 4 cups; set aside.
18. Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoon of reserved Herb Butter to a medium heavy saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly (this will create a gravy roux).
19. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in 4 cups of reserved turkey drippings/broth. If you have less than 4 cups, add chicken broth to equal 4 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste – but make sure you TASTE it before adding any extra salt!
CARVING THE TURKEY:
20. With the bird facing towards you, cut along both sides of the breastbone, from one end of the turkey to the other.
21. Gently pull each breast half away to expose wishbone, then pull and remove wishbone.
22. Cut along rib cage to remove breast completely. Place entire breast half on carving board and cut on bias into slices.
23. Remove turkey legs and wings. Remove dark meat from bottom of turkey and slice into chunks.
WHAT KIND OF TURKEY SHOULD I USE? I always recommend a fresh, NOT frozen turkey, because frozen turkeys are often pre-brined, which means salt is added to preserve the turkey. If you do use a frozen turkey, cut the sea salt in the brine by half. DO NOT USE a kosher, self-basting or pre-brined turkey. Costco always has fresh turkeys available during Thanksgiving; you can also order fresh and not frozen turkeys from your local butcher.
WHAT KIND OF SALT SHOULD I USE? I recommend sea salt for the Apple Cider Turkey Brine because it has wonderful flavor, and kosher salt for roasting the bird. Kosher salt is twice a strong, so if you must use it in the Apple Cider Turkey Brine, cut the salt measurements in half.
HOW DO I BRINE A TURKEY? I ALWAYS USE Reynolds Turkey Size bags or turkey-sized Brining Bags for meats/poultry 8-24 lbs. to brine my turkeys. I recommend double bagging your turkey in case the bag punctures and leaks. It is really helpful to place the bag in another container to push the liquid up around the turkey. I place my bag in a large Home Depot bucket or medium cooler, and then add my turkey to the bag. If the turkey is floating, weigh it down with a heavy object. If the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator is big enough, it is also a great place to brine your bagged turkey. Make sure any extra air is squeezed out of the bag before it is sealed tightly and that the brine covers the turkey. If the brine doesn’t cover the turkey, be sure to flip the bag every 4 hours. If your refrigerator space is limited, then place your turkey in the brining bag in a cooler and surround with ice packs. Rotate turkey every 4 hours. (I prefer the cooler method, as I can place ice around the turkey brining bag, shut the top and not worry about it at all.)
FRESH HERBS OR DRIED HERBS? I use fresh herbs to stuff the turkey – our local market sells a package of “fresh poultry herbs” that contains a selection of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley that work perfectly. I use dried herbs in the Herb Butter because fresh herbs have a tendency to burn when roasted.
TO BASTE OR NOT TO BASTE? Basting is optional. If you like crispy skin, then don’t baste your turkey at all. I usually baste every 30 minutes for the first half of roasting time, and then only a couple of times during the last half of roasting.
DO I NEED A MEAT THERMOMETER? Absolutely! I always recommend a digital instant-read thermometer if you have one. Brined turkeys cook much faster than not-brined turkeys, so you will rely on your meat thermometer for perfect roasting. Without a meat thermometer, there is no accurate way to know if the turkey is cooked through. Measure the temperature on the inside of the thigh – making sure not to touch the bone.
ROASTING TIME FOR BRINED TURKEYS: This is a general guideline on cooking by the pound for BRINED TURKEY – but you should start checking your turkey at least 30 minutes before the times suggested below:
WEIGHT TOTAL ROASTING TIME
8-12 pounds 1.5 to 2 hours
12-16 pounds 2 to 3 hours
16-20 pounds 2.5 to 3.5 hours
20-25 pounds 3.5 to 4 hours
CAN I USE A TURKEY OVEN BAG RATHER THAN ROASTING? You can, but you won’t have the same crispy skin that you will get by oven roasting. You also won’t be basting your turkey during roasting. Bake breast down for the first half hour, then flip the entire bag over so that the turkey roasts breast-side up for the remainder of your cooking time. Make sure to cook according to the instructions for your turkey cooking bag, keeping in mind that a brined turkey will cook faster than a non-brined turkey, and a turkey cooked in an oven bag will cook much faster than a roasted turkey – so adjust your cooking time accordingly and make sure to use a meat thermometer so that you don’t overcook your turkey.
Originally Posted November 2012.
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