This is not a recipe per se, more like a collection of ideas on how to roast a turkey. Since I do this at least once a year for Thanksgiving I find myself looking for how-to-tipps from different sources every time. I decided to write down „my own tipps“, the stuff that has worked for me over the years. This way I can always come back and repeat what worked – and not go searching again.
I’ll also list a couple of things I like to do with the leftovers – including the carcass – but more on that later.
The first thing to consider is: what kind of turkey and how big it should be.
– I use a free range turkey that is freshly slaughtered, not frozen, which to my taste has the most flavorful and tender meat.
– The size depends on how many people there are to feed, I always make enough to have leftovers for sandwiches and give some to the departing guests. This year a 9 kg (= 20 lb) turkey fed 8 plus lots of leftovers. A bigger bird would not have fit my oven, european ovens aren’t sized for jumbo turkeys.
… the bird before roasting it:
– remove the giblets and neck from the cavity, rinse and pat dry, use for stock to make the gravy
– wash turkey in cool water and dry it with paper towels. Use 1/2 tsp salt and pepper for the cavity
then leave it out at room temeperature for two hours
– good time to make your stuffing / dressing
– my friend Kit showed me his trick for a moist and succulent breast.
You make an herb butter from:
half a stick of butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
a buch of different fine chopped herbs, mine included sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley… use any you like and have at hand.
Mix the herbs with the soft butter, loosen the skin of the turkey breast and smear the butter evenly onto the breast, beeing careful not to tear the skin. This will keep the breast extra moist during the cooking process.
– rub the outside of the turkey with 1-2 tsp salt and pepper
– if using (I always do) insert stuffing into bird and preheat oven to 450 F ( 230 C)
– make a roasting rack of sturdy vegetables like: celery root, fat carrots, parsnips and parsley root
all cut into 1 1/2 inch disks. Cover the bottom of your roasting pan with it. This will help cook the bird evenly and provide thickener for your gravy. lay the bird on the „vegetable rack“ breast side up.
– truss the legs and fold the wingtips under
– make my old Martha Stewart favourite to keep the bird extra moist (good flavour too):
2 cups white wine
1 Stick of butter
melted together in a small pan.
1 piece of cheese cloth (will be thrown away because it gets burned) steep cheesecloth in the wine mixture and lay it flat on the turkey breast while still quite moist. It should cover all of the breast and some of the legs and protects the bird from getting dry.
Now the turkey goes in the preheated oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes, at that time baste with the wine mixture, a brush works best for this. Reduce temperature to 350 F (175 C) work quickly when basting so the heat level doesn’t drop too much.
– keep basting every 30 minutes until all of the wine mixture is gone.
– remove the cheesecloth after 3 hours of cooking and discard (it will be burned and not the breast)
– my stuffed bird (20 lb) cooked 4 1/2 hours and rested covered in tin foil for 40 minutes.
– I measured the temperature to make sure the stuffing was cooked, I don’t trust „roast turkey for x minutes per pound“ -rules completely so I measure.
Resting and Gravy making
– resting is important, the meat relaxes and the juices distribute evenly, making for juicy tender meat
– make your gravy while the bird is resting
– I have made chicken stock recently and frozen for the gravy (it can also be store bought of course)
– remove Turkey from cooking pan, lay on a carving board, cover with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes
– strain pan juices into a fat separator keeping the cooked vegetables (from the veggie rack) aside for later use
– pour 1 1/2 cups warmed chicken stock into a glas jar with a lid. Add 2 Tbsp of flour and shake vigorously to dissolve the flour. Pour about 1 cup of port wine into the turkey pan to deglaze it. Heat pan on a burner and whisk constantly to remove all the stuff that is cooked to it. Add 2-3 cups of the reserved (and defatted) turkey juices and the contents of the glass jar. Continue whisking to make a smooth gravy. If it is too runny use a cup of the reserved veggies and blend with a cup of the „runny“ gravy. Return the mixture to the pan and stir. Taste for seasonings and adjust (salt, pepper)