I’ve made a roast turkey every year for the past I don’t even know how many years.
Even if I’m not cooking the bird on the main day, I still find time to roast my own sometime during the week of Thanksgiving.
We often have to split up the holiday based upon who’s able to make it to Maryland on the Thanksgiving, or a few days later instead.
So, inevitably, we have TWO turkey days among both sides of the family. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s actually fun to spread the holidays out.
At my parents’ feast, along with the bird comes copious amount of sides, largely produced by the meals’ attendees, rather than one crazed Thanksgiving day cook, who’s trying to pull together dinner for 14 with one oven, three working stove top burners (there are actually four burners, but one’s always too messy under the element to actually use — that’s not just me, right?), limited fridge space, and barely enough time.
On our homestead, we’re lucky to have use of my kitchen, the kitchen in the log cabin (it’s modern, even though the original cabin is circa 1700s), and my parents’ space. It’s a dream setup for large dinner gatherings that require lots of prep, knowing that we have three ovens and ample stove top options!
Back to the turkey.
I don’t do anything special for my roast turkey. No crazy injections, no brine (though I’m certainly not opposed to brining!), no cheese cloth, AND — since I always forget to buy it — no kitchen twine to tie the legs together. I’m of the mindset that the simpler the better, otherwise it can create added chaos to a holiday that already has mayhem potential.
I’d prefer to enjoy a glass of wine, laugh with my family, and leisurely prepare Thanksgiving dinner, thankyouverymuch.
- 1 15-pound turkey (larger or smaller as needed)
- 1 recipe salted sage & pepper butter, room temp
- 2 large onions, quartered
- 1 head of fresh garlic, halved
- 1 bundle of fresh parsley and sage (stems are fine; nothing fancy)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 475°F.
- Remove the neck, giblets, and anything else from the turkey cavity. Save them for gravy, or for making turkey stock later. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.
- Set the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck the wings underneath. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the pan (this helps keep it from smoking as drippings fall, and makes a nice base for gravy).
- Stuff the inside of the turkey with the onions, garlic and herbs.
- Gently lift the skin from both sides of the turkey breast — don't rip it! — to create pockets. Slather half the salted sage & pepper butter on either side, in the pockets you made.
- Pour the olive oil on top of the turkey, sprinkle it with salt, and use your hands to rub it in so that the bird is coated evenly.
- Place the turkey in the oven for 20 minutes (high temp = crispy skin), then reduce the heat to 325°F, and continue roasting the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, or until the temperature reaches 170°F in the deepest part of the thigh.
- Pull the turkey out of the oven, and let it rest for 30 minutes. The temperature will rise another 10 degrees while it's sitting — you're looking for 180°F in the thigh.
- Carve the turkey and enjoy (and save the carcass for stock)!
If you notice that the legs or the breast are browning too fast, loosely cover them with foil after an hour or two.
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