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herb roast turkey recipeThe first time I hosted a Thanksgiving, I had a turkey catastrophe.  I was nervous and stressed out and overcooked my turkey.  It was a lot like this:

Yup, my turkey was dry and gross.  Thankfully, my sides were great so it was not a big deal.  That seems to be the attitude that I take about turkey.  Eh.  I know that I have to make one, it is not a Thanksgiving dinner without one, but I really could take it or leave it.  I really prefer it the next day.  In sandwich form.

I roast a lot of turkeys at my house.  All year long.  So I guess that is another reason why I do not get excited about a Thanksgiving turkey.  We eat turkey all the time.  I always brine my turkey.  I think that it adds moisture and flavor that you cannot get any other way.  It is worth the extra step and I encourage you to do it.

When I make a whole turkey, I do not stuff it.  I prefer the shorter cooking time, and not worrying about the stuffing temperature.  I like to stuff it with onions, garlic, herbs, lemons, and oranges.  I make an herb butter that I slather all over the outside of my bird.

Roasting a turkey is not hard, but like most things, it works better when you have a plan.  Decide when you want to serve it and works backwards.  I made an 11 pound turkey that I wanted to serve at 5pm.  I knew that it would take 3 to 3 1/2 hours to cook and need another 20 minutes or so to rest, so I put it in the oven at 1:30.  Butterball has a calculator that I use for all of my temperatures and times.

herb roasted turkey recipeone whole turkey (I prefer a fresh, organic turkey)

for the herb butter:

1 stick of room temperature butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (I used sage, rosemary, and thyme)
zest of one lemon

to stuff:

onions
garlic
oranges
lemon
herbs

kitchen twine

herb roast turkey recipeWash your turkey really well.  I rub mine with salt and rinse it really, really well.  The water needs to run clear.  Dry your bird well.

herb roast turkey recipeMake sure you check the turkeys neck and behind and make sure that you leave nothing left inside.  This is what you are looking for.  Some people save these “treats” to make gravy.  I do not, so I toss them.  I know that some grandmothers just died inside by me typing that.  I know that mine would.

herb roast turkey recipeMix together the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.

herb roast turkey recipeQuarter a few lemons, oranges and onions.  The amount that you will need depends on how large your bird is.  This is a pretty small turkey.  I am using a ridiculously large roasting pan with a rack.  I love this pan and the rack really makes this job a whole lot easier.

herb roast turkey recipeStuff the inside with the citrus and onions.  You want to pack it full, but not so full that air cannot circulate around the inside.  I put some herbs in there because it looks pretty.  If I can make uncooked poultry look pretty, I will try my hardest.

herb roast turkey recipeCriss-cross the turkeys legs and tie it with some cooking twine.

herb roast turkey recipeSee this little wing sticking out?  We need to tuck that underneath.  Just stick it underneath the bum and cover the loose skin around the neck.

herb roast turkey recipeSlather the bird with butter.  Season with salt and pepper.

herb roast turkey recipeCook the turkey in a preheated 325 degree oven.  When the turkey is about 2/3 of the way done, cover it in tin foil.  This will help your turkey from getting too brown.  The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thigh (not touching the bone) reaches 180 degrees.  The juices will run clear.  And your house will smell amazing and like Thanksgiving.

herb roast turkey recipeLet stand for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve.  And there you have the gem of Thanksgiving.

Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients

  • one whole turkey (I prefer a fresh, organic turkey)
  • for the herb butter:
  • 1 stick of room temperature butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (I used sage, rosemary, and thyme)
  • zest of one lemon
  • to stuff:
  • onions
  • garlic
  • oranges
  • lemon
  • herbs
  • kitchen twine

Instructions

  1. Wash your turkey really well. I rub mine with salt and rinse it really, really well. The water needs to run clear. Dry your bird well.
  2. Make sure you check the turkeys neck and behind and make sure that you leave nothing left inside. This is what you are looking for. Some people save these “treats” to make gravy. I do not, so I toss them. I know that some grandmothers just died inside by me typing that. I know that mine would.
  3. Mix together the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
  4. Quarter a few lemons, oranges and onions. The amount that you will need depends on how large your bird is. This is a pretty small turkey. I am using a ridiculously large roasting pan with a rack. I love this pan and the rack really makes this job a whole lot easier.
  5. Stuff the inside with the citrus and onions. You want to pack it full, but not so full that air cannot circulate around the inside. I put some herbs in there because it looks pretty. If I can make uncooked poultry look pretty, I will try my hardest.
  6. Criss-cross the turkeys legs and tie it with some cooking twine.
  7. See this little wing sticking out? We need to tuck that underneath. Just stick it underneath the bum and cover the loose skin around the neck.
  8. Slather the bird with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Cook the turkey in a preheated 325 degree oven. When the turkey is about 2/3 of the way done, cover it in tin foil. This will help your turkey from getting too brown. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thigh (not touching the bone) reaches 180 degrees. The juices will run clear. And your house will smell amazing and like Thanksgiving.
  10. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve.
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16 Responses to Herb Roasted Turkey

  1. Tanya says:

    Okay Bree, I love the movie Christmas Vacation! That is one of my favorite scenes. I like your attitude about the turkey. For me, I really only make turkey once a year, because it is not my husband’s favorite. So my turkey matters! I have roasted lots of chickens like your above turkey and they do come out yummy. I prefer mine stuffed but that’s what I grew up eating. I am posting my menu tomorrow and will be linking to your site for your green bean and cranberry sauce recipes. So excited to be adding them to my meal this year, have a great day!

    • bakedbree says:

      That is my favorite scene for sure. I am so excited that you will be adding some of my recipes to your Thanksgiving meal.

  2. Angie says:

    Instead of turkey could chicken be used? My future mother-in-law loathes this specific bird even though I think its delicious!

  3. Looks delicious! My Italian grandmother to this day makes the best turkey ever and she says her secret is to cook the bird breast side down on low heat. I tried it recently and it works! It makes for an early Thanksgiving morning but it gives me that hour of peace before my three year old gets up so I can squeeze in a viewing of Christmas Vacation! As always the photos are amazing!

  4. Nicole says:

    This may be a silly question- but do you just throw away the stuff inside the turkey? Is it only for flavor?

  5. [...] Herb Roasted Turkey [...]

  6. MS78 says:

    So, let’s say hypothetically we wanted to cut it down to a turkey breast, AND stuff the bird…what changes would you make?

    • bakedbree says:

      I would alter the cooking time, but I never stuff. I would check out the butterball website. I use that for turkey cooking time questions and food safety.

  7. [...] that I have never asked anyone to ever bring anything other than wine.  This year, I am making a whole turkey, two breasts, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce (two kinds) and a pear ricotta tart.  For me, that [...]

  8. Keri says:

    Do you not have to baste this turkey?

  9. Cheeyl says:

    Thanks, Bree! My son found this site online for me and we have rubbed down our turkey with herb butter!

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