Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Perfectly Roast a Whole Turkey

Here we are, the final installment of my Thanksgiving 101 Series, I hope this has helped you come up with a game plan for your big day and ultimately relieve you of a little stress!  YOU'VE GOT THIS!!!  There is only one final piece left in our holiday dinner puzzle, the piece de resistance,THE TURKEY!

This may very well be the most intimidating item on your menu.  Why?  Because we have all see that moment in Christmas Vacation where Clark brings the picturesque bird to the table, cuts into it, and POOF! the thing is so dry it practically evaporates right there on the table.  Or what about that time you went to Aunt (you fill in the blank)'s house and the skin on the turkey was yellow and rubbery. Oh, and the worst, when the skin is totally burnt to a crisp only discover that the meat inside is still raw.

Yes, good ol' Tom has been kicking butt and taking names for a while.  Maybe you have even made it on this list a time or two, but not this year!  No, this is the year you show Tom the Turkey who's boss.  This is the year you place the show-stopper on the table and wow your guests.  Yes, this is the year you make the PERFECT Butter and Herb Roasted Turkey!  Just follow these simple instructions and your bird is going to come out flawless.

Let's Get Started!

Butter and Herb Roasted Turkey:
*Prep Time:20 min.  *Cook Time:  20 min. PER POUND *Difficulty:  Easy  *Servings: 10-12 


Ingredients needed for a perfectly roasted turkey.

  • 1 whole Turkey, 14-20 lbs.
  • 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 bulb of Garlic
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tsp. Parsley
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Sage
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
When you purchase your Thanksgiving turkey it will most likely be frozen.  You will need to place the bird in your fridge for at least ONE WEEK before you are planning to cook it.  This will allow it to thaw fully without spoiling.  

On the day you are going to roast your turkey, set it in the sink for 30 minutes before prepping, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Yes, I said that right, 500 degrees.  Trust me.  I will explain later. 

Soften butter in a mixing bowl with a rubber spatula.

While you are waiting for the oven to heat up you are going to prepare your herb butter.
Place the two sticks of butter into a mixing bowl.

Dried herbs being added to the soften butter.

To the butter add the parsley, thyme, sage, salt and pepper.

Lemon zest being added to the herbs and butter.

Next you are going to zest the entire lemon into the butter as well.

The herbs and zest blended into the butter.

Mix the butter until it is completely combined with the lemon zest and herbs.

What the turkey looks like right out of the wrapper.

Now we are going to prep the turkey.

I recommend that before you unwrap it, place it on a baking sheet.  Otherwise you are going to have a BIG mess on your hands.

If the legs are tucked into a flap of skin, untuck them, and trim away the excess skin with your kitchen sheers.

Demonstrating where the giblet bag is located in the turkey.

Next you will need to remove the giblet bag.

Funny story, the first time I made a turkey EVERYONE told me, over and over, not to forget to take out the giblet bag.  When I was prepping my turkey I felt all around the cavity for this bag, and NOTHING.  I assumed that by some mistake the turkey company had missed my bird.  What everyone forgot to tell me was that the giblet bag is NOT in the cavity, but is located at the front of the bird, under the front skin flap.

The giblet removed from the turkey.

So, now that you know exactly where it is at, remove it.
Take it from me.  It's not pretty when you are carving your bird and that thing bursts out.  *lol*

Demonstrate where the neck is located in the turkey.

Now you will need to remove the neck.  It is located in the cavity of the bird.

The neck being removed.

You can use the giblets in your gravy and freeze the neck to make stock with later, but if this totally freaks you out...feel free to throw them away.

Also, make sure you take the time to clean out and excess fat and skin from the cavity.  You won't be eating it, and it doesn't make for an attractive bird.

The turkey being rinsed off in the sink.

Now you will want to rinse the bird with cold water inside and out.

The rinsed turkey being patted dry.

After you have rinsed it, take the time to pat it dry, again inside and out.
This ensures that the skin will brown and become crispy and not steam and become rubbery.

The skin from the turkey being gently removed from the meat.

It's magic time!
Gently take your fingers and separate the skin from the flesh of your bird.
You will do this on both sides of the breast and across the top of the legs.

The herb butter being scooped out of the bowl.

Next, take a scoop of the herb butter you made earlier and...

The butter being placed under the skin of the turkey.

Rub it all over the underside of the skin. Again, on both sides of the breast and over the legs.
This is not only going to directly season the meat, but it is going to produce the most moist and succulent turkey you have ever eaten.

The entire turkey being basted with butter.

After you have applied the butter to the inside of the bird, you will need to take the rest of the butter and give the OUTSIDE a nice rub down as well.

Lemon, garlic, and onion being placed in the cavity of the turkey.

Now let's talk aromatics.
To the cavity of the bird you are going to add the onion, garlic bulb, and lemon, cut in half.  You don't need to peel the skin of, nothing.  Just cut it in half and place it in the bird.

The legs of the turkey being tied together.

Then, with some kitchen twine, tie the legs together.

The turkey ready to go into the oven.

Place the turkey into a roasting pan.

The outside of the turkey being seasoned with salt.

Season the outside of the skin with a little salt and pepper.

The turkey roasting in the oven.

And place in the 500 degree oven for 30 minutes.
I know you think I am crazy, but this is what is going to give it that lovely, crisp, golden brown skin that we all know and love.

The turkey after 30 minutes at 500.

30 minutes later and YOWZA!  Would you look at that!
The meat of this beauty is nowhere near finished cooking, but we don't want the skin to burn so...

The turkey being covered with foil.

You are going to drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees, cover the turkey, loosely with foil, and place back in the oven.

The general rule for roasting a turkey is 20 minutes per pound.  So for a 20 lb bird such as this one you are looking another 3 and half hours.

Checking the internal temperature of the turkey.

When the 3 and a half hours is up, place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
When the thermometer reads 180 degrees you are good to go!

Remove from the oven and let rest for one hour.
During this time the turkey will continue to cook, the juices will redistribute back into the meat, and the wonderful poultry magic occurs.

The finished roasted turkey.

And there you have it!

The PERFECT turkey!  Trust me when I say Miss Jennie-O could not to better herself!  Just look at it.  It is beautifully golden brown and the meat, the meat is so juicy and tender you can cut it with a fork.  And while we are at it, let's talk about the skin.  Crispy, flavorful.  This IS a show stopper. And while it sits front and center at your table you can gaze upon it with pride while you say to yourself...I totally did that!

Now get in the kitchen and show that turkey who's boss!

As always,

Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living,
~The Kitchen Wife~


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