Butter And Herb Roast Turkey, Gravy And Sides
Turkey is the cornerstone of the Thanksgiving meal, for me it just wouldn’t be the same without it. Growing up we usually had Italian food for Thanksgiving but from time to time my Mom would make a traditional American meal. Mom always made a capon rather than a regular turkey, if I understand correctly a capon is a turkey but it has been neutered, its smaller and more tender, it was really good. She always roasted in her black and white speckled enamel roasting pan. When I left home my Mom presented one to me and although I have tried roasting turkeys in other pans I always come back to the black and white graniteware pan. The turkey is cooked in record time, it’s moist and tender and nicely browned. I posted the recipe on food52. Above is the picture that James Ransom took for food 52 when my turkey was chosen as a community pick. The recipe below is for a large turkey for a smaller one you will have to adjust amounts and cooking time. No matter what method you use to cook your bird I highly recommend trying the compound butter inserted under the skin, it produces a moist and flavorful turkey.
For 18-20 lb turkey
- 16 tablespoons salted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves removed or 1/2 tsp dried
- 3 chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Crush garlic with mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt.
- Remove the leaves of thyme from the stalk, add thyme and sage and lemon zest and crush it all together.
- In small mixing bowl, add the softened butter and garlic and herb mixture mix together.
- If you are going to insert the turkey right away, don’t refrigerate — if not, roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before you add to the turkey.
- 1 18-20 pound turkey
- Compound butter
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Put turkey on work surface and make sure it’s clean and dry. Insert fingers under skin to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Work slowly so you don’t tear the skin.
- Spread a generous amount of the compound butter under the skin on both sides of the breast. (Reserve a small amount of the compound butter to baste the turkey when you brown the skin.)
- Using butchers twine, bind the legs together and place the turkey on a rack in your roasting pan.
- Rub the turkey with some olive oil and generously salt and pepper the entire turkey. (I like to do this the night before baking refrigerating overnight, if you do this let sit at room temperature for an hour before placing in the oven). Place lid on pan and put into the oven. No basting required!
- After 2- 3 hours, check the internal temperature of your turkey by inserting a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. When it has reached an internal temperature of 150°F, remove from the oven, and brush the turkey with the remaining compound butter. Crank up the oven to 450°F. Put back in the oven without the lid and let it roast until the skin is a nice golden brown. The internal temperature should be 160°F when you remove from the oven. Total cooking time for an 18-20 pound turkey is 4-4 1/2 hours approximately. Let turkey rest for at least 30 minutes tented with foil and final temperature should be 165°F-170°F.
- Note: If you don’t have a roaster with a lid just tent with aluminum foil, making sure its sealed well around the pan. Also, you need to watch the turkey and check on it for doneness if you are using a graniteware pan it cooks very quickly, basically sealing the turkey and steam roasting it. I generally start checking on the turkey after 2 hours.
I have several different types of roasting pans and have to say I love the graniteware, it’s very inexpensive ($33 for am extra large pan), lasts forever and always gets the job done well. I don’t use a thermometer when I use my graniteware, I slow roast my turkey at 325 degrees no basting except at the very end when I remove the lid to get the turkey a really deep brown at high heat (450).I can fully cook a 22 lb turkey in my graniteware pan in less than 4 hours.
After the turkey has rested you will want to make gravy, I pour the pan drippings,(when you use a grantiteware pan there is a ton of juice) into one of those separators, you know it separates the fat from the juice. I place about 1/4 cup of the fat into a fry pan and heat it, add some flour to make a roux, stir constantly until the flour is cooked and nicely browned. Add the juice whisking constantly until it’s the desired thickness, season with salt and pepper if necessary. I always use gravy master, it’s a habit, I like it and only use about a tsp of the stuff.
The first course will be a Butternut Squash + Bourbon Soup from Mary Frances and her lovely blog, Love the Secret Ingredient, she has an e-book with recipes and tips for planning your holiday and it’s really great. My sides are really pretty boring I’m afraid. I am a creature of habit and almost always serve the same thing every Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes, always yukon gold, boiled and put through the food mill so there are no lumps. I add sour cream, butter salt and pepper. I like corn and brussels sprouts usually roasted in the oven.