Easy and Succulent Thanksgiving – Recipe 4 of 7: The Roasted Turkey
By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor
We have written, thus far, on our suggestions for perfect and soooooooo easy Thanksgiving Appetizer, Soup and Salad recipes. You might want try these ahead of time to test them. We're pretty sure that once you see how incredibly easy they are, a whole wave of relief will wash over you. Yes, you can have an EASY, fail-proof and incredibly delicious Thanksgiving feast.
Now we have come to the piece de resistance, the bird itself. It is the most intimidating part of the menu but have no fear, the bird is just big,a bit unwieldy but not scary. This recipe allows for the juiciest, most flavorful, fool-proof and most complimented on turkey you will ever serve to family and friends.
The key to having a turkey be so moist is the brining. Brining spices and bags can be bought at William-Sonoma. Or you can make your own spice blend. See this how-to video on brining a turkey from the Food Network. I always add 2 green tea bags to the brine mix for a little antioxidant factor (to justify all the day's excess and alleviate some guilt by adding more nutrition to the mix). Plus, I like the very subtle green tea fusion taste. Since we are not able to spend our Thanksgiving together this year, Anne-Marie will simply go for the PRE-brined turkey at Trader Joe's.
The recipe below is loosely based on a Bon Appetit recipe from 1998 that my Anne-Marie found online, wayyyyy-back-when and that we have adapted and used ever since.
ROASTED TURKEY with HERB BUTTER
One 16- to 18-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved for gravy
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)
Fresh sage sprigs (optional)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°F.Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry (how-to video on that here). Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. OR, instead of a roast pan, I always use whole peeled carrots and celery sticks. If you're not stuffing turkey, place rosemary and sage sprigs in main cavity. If you are stuffing your turkey, spoon stuffing loosely into main cavity (recipe will follow next week).
Melt butter in saucepan. Mix in chopped rosemary, sage, pepper. Brush herb butter over turkey. Tuck wing tips under turkey; tie legs together to hold shape. Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with pan juices. Continue roasting turkey until thermometer inserted into thigh registers 180°F, basting every 20 minutes, about 1 1/2 hours longer if unstuffed or about 2 hours longer if stuffed.
Cooking a 16 pound bird is a little cumbersome, but there is nothing complicated about it. Just follow the steps and you WILL get an amazing and delicious turkey.
Next week: Stuffing that may even upstage the turkey: Caramelized Onion and Pine Nut Stuffing. Stay tuned.